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BY S. HEKBERT, M.D., M.K.C.S., L.R.C.P. 


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To most lay people the established order of sex 
relationships and marriage seems something so self- 
evident and stable that they cannot conceive the 
possibility of a variation in the established order. 
Yet here, as in all things, the law of evolution applies. 
Our sexual system is the outcome of a long continuous 
series of changes beginning with the very dawn of 
human history. To understand the modern sex 
problem rightly it is essential to know its origin and 
gradual development. 

Most of the material about the sex life of primitive 
people is inaccessible to the ordinary reader, being 
hidden away in learned treatises and ponderous 
scientific works. The translators are, therefore, glad 
to have found in Fehlinger's book a short comprehensive 
outline of the subject, which may serve as a convenient 

S. H. 

F. H. 


July y 1921. 






IV. MARRIAGE ....... 46 




IX. BIBLIOGRAPHY ...... 128 




IN cold and temperate climates, it is necessary to 
clothe the body as a protection against cold. In hot 
parts of the world, the need for protection against the 
effects of the weather by means of clothing disappears, 
and therefore in those regions primitive " people go 
about naked. It is only when they come under the 
influence of foreign civilisation that they put on cloth- 
ing. It is erroneous to assume that clothing came into 
use because of an inborn sexual modesty. In Australia, 
in the Indonesian and Melanesian islands, in tropical 
Africa, and in South America, there are still many 
peoples that go about naked. It is true that many of 
them cover their sex organs ; but the contrivances 
used for this purpose are not in reality intended to 
hide the sex region, though to our mind they seem to 
do so. 

Primitive people do not cover their bodies out of 
modesty ; " the sinfulness of nakedness " is unknown 
to them. Karl von den Steinen (pp. 190, 191) says 


that the naked Indian tribes of the Xingu region of 
Brazil know no secret parts of the body. " They joke 
about these parts in words and pictures quite 
unabashed, so that it would be foolish to call them 
indecent. They are envious of our clothing, as of some 
precious finery ; they put it on and wear it in our 
presence with a complete disregard of the simplest 
rules of our own society, and in complete ignorance 
of its purpose. This proves that they_still possess the 
pristine guilelessness of Adam and Eve in Eden. Some 
of them celebrate the advent of puberty in members of 
both sexes by noisy festivals, when the ' private parts ' 
come in for a good deal of general attention. If a man 
wishes to inform a stranger that he is a father, or a 
woman that she is a mother, they gravely denote the 
fact by touching the organs from which life springs, in 
a most spontaneous and natural manner. It is, there- 
fore, not possible to understand these people properly 
unless we put aside our conception of ' clothing/ and 
take them and their manners in their own natural 

The absence of sexual modesty in our sense also 
struck von Steinen when questions about words arose. 
If he asked about a word which to our minds might 
give cause for shame, the reply was given without 
hesitation or any semblance of shame. Nevertheless, 
conversations about sexual subjects gave the Indians, 
men and women, decided pleasure ; but their merry 
laughter was " neither impudent, nor did it give the 


impression of hiding an inward embarrassment. It 
had, however, a slightly erotic tone, and resembled the 
laughter aroused by the jokes in our own spinning- 
rooms, by games of forfeits, and by other harmless 
jokes exchanged in intercourse between the sexes, 
although the occasions and accompanying circum- 
stances must be so very different among truly primitive 

Naked savages are, however, not devoid of sexual 
modesty. It shows itself immediately when any 
remark addressed to them can be construed as an 
invitation to sexual intercourse, or when coarse jokes 
are made about sexual subjects. This is clearly shown 
in an account by Koch-Griinberg (I., p. 307). His 
European companion wanted to perform a kind of 
stomach dance before some savage Indians of the 
Upper Rio Negro, such as is danced in places of ill 
repute in Brazilian towns. The very indecent move- 
ments of the dancer caused the women and girls to 
retire shyly. The European in his attempt to " enter- 
tain " the company failed completely. Yet one can 
converse quietly with these Indians on all sexual sub- 
jects so long as they are natural ; it is only obscenity 
that shocks them. 

According to Eylmann, the Australians, at least the 
men, show no modesty in sex matters, though they 
are by no means devoid of it in other respects. Thus, 
e.g., they are ashamed of any mutilation of their bodies. 
Young men do not cover their sex organs, but the old 

B 2 


ones do so, because they seem to be aware that this 
part of the body, of which they were once so proud, 
bears signs of old age. The women also rarely make 
use of an apron, yet they show clearly marked sexual 
modesty. A woman is always very careful not to 
expose the external sex organs when she sits or lies 
down in the presence of men. The greatest decency is 
observed during the time of menstruation. 

In Indonesia the feeling of modesty among those 
tribes that are in constant contact with Europeans 
is essentially different from that of the tribes less under 
foreign influence. Thus Nieuwenhuis (I., pp. 133, 
134) mentions, for instance, the Bahaus and Kenyas 
of Central Borneo. Of these the latter are only slightly 
influenced by the Mohammedan Malays, the former, 
however, relatively much more so. Although members 
of both tribes bathe completely naked, yet the Bahaus 
dress immediately after the bath, whilst the Kenyas 
go naked to and from the bath. The Kenya women 
also go naked to the spring to bring water and to bathe 
their children. Whilst getting the boats through the 
rapids the Kenya men take off their loin-cloths, but 
the Bahau men never do this. When Nieuwenhuis' 
expedition stayed some time among the Kenyas, it 
was noticed that the people got out of the habit of 
going about naked at times. This was only because 
the Malays and Bahaus belonging to the expedition 
had told the Kenyas that the white people objected to 
the naked appearance of the natives (which was not 


correct). Nieuwenhuis adds: "It can thus be seen 
what a great role acquired modesty plays in the evolu- 
tion of clothes." The clothing of the present-day 
Dyaks serves as a protection against the heat of the 
sun, and in the mountains against cold, and as a preven- 
tion of the darkening of the skin (which, particularly in 
women, is considered ugly) ; it is also used as an orna- 
ment and to scare enemies, but never for the conceal- 
ment of the body. The Dyaks show shame when made 
embarrassed before other people ; on such occasions 
they blush right down to the breast. Nieuwenhuis 
made use of this circumstance in the case of the Bahaus 
in order to make them keep their promises and do 
their duties (II., p. 296). 

The Eskimos in the far north of America are, as a 
rule, thickly clothed ; but it is quite usual for them to 
go about naked in their snow huts without any thought 
of offending against decency. 

Whoever lives for a time among naked savages 
becomes accustomed to their nakedness, and does not 
feel anything objectionable in it. .ZEsthetically there 
is this disadvantage, that the sick and the aged look 
very repulsive in their decline ; but then again youth 
and strength show off to great advantage in nakedness. 

If the origin of clothing is not due to sexual modesty, 
it would at first appear strange that so many naked 
savages cover their sexual organs either completely 
or partly, wearing a pubic apron or some similar 
arrangement. The contrivances used are sometimes 


so small that they can hardly have been intended as 
coverings. Thus the women of the Karaib, Aruak, 
and Tupi tribes in the Xingui region all wear a triangular 
piece of bark bast not more than 7 centimetres wide 
and 3 centimetres high. The lower end of the triangle 
runs" into a perineal strip of hard bark about 4 milli- 
metres wide. Two narrow cords coming from the two 
upper ends pass along the groins, and meet the narrow 
perineal strip coming from the lower end of the triangle. 
These uluri only just cover the beginning of the pubic 
cleft, pressing tightly on it. The triangle does not 
reach the introitus vaginae, which is, however, closed, 
or at least kept inwards, by the pressure exerted by the 
tightened strip of bast running from front to back. 
Similar binders are used by the Indian women of 
Central Brazil. The binder used by the Trumai 
women is twisted into a cord, serving still less as a 
cover. In fact, none of these binders serve as covers, 
but they are intended to close up and to protect the 
mucous membrane. This also applies to the binders 
used by the various peoples living on the islands of the 
Pacific Ocean, as, e.g., by the Mafulus of Papua. 

Various contrivances are also to be met with among 
many primitive men which seem to have the purpose 
of protecting the penis, and which really achieve that 
end. Among certain tribes of Brazil penis wraps 
made from palm straw are worn ; other tribes use a 
T-shaped bandage, which is also very common in 
Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. The penis is 


pulled up by means of the T-bandage, the testicles 
remaining free. Sometimes old men use a broad band, 
under which they can also push the testicles. In the 
New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and other places, the 
penis is tightly bandaged, and is drawn up and fastened 
to the girdle by means of a cord or band, the testicles 
hanging free. Calabashes are also used to protect the 
penis. In Melanesia the penis pin goes with the 
calabash. Georg Friederici (p. 155) says about its 
use : " The penis pin, which is the shape of a wooden 
knitting needle, is stuck into the hair near the comb, 
and is often brought into use. The calabash, which 
serves the purpose of protecting the penis against 
injury in the bush and attacks from insects, has the 
disadvantage of easily becoming loose and filling 
quickly with water during swimming and wading. 
After every passage of a river reaching above the pubic 
region a halt had to be made, during which my men 
took off their calabashes and emptied them ; then they 
put a new layer of green leaves into the round opening, 
stuck the penis in, and, with the help of the penis 
pin, pushed it in until it had completely disappeared 
and the calabash lay close to the abdomen." When 
sitting round the camp fire, and at other times, the 
men can be seen drawing the pins from their hair and 
making their toilet. The covering of the penis is 
undoubtedly intended as a protection of the sensitive 
glans. Thus in the Brazilian forest the penis becomes 
endangered by spines of leaves being brushed off the 


branches and boring themselves deeply into the flesh ; 
tKe spines get torn when pulled out, and cause painful 
inflammations. For warding off insects the women 
of many Indian tribes have tassels hanging in front of 
the sex organs. In the Northern Territory of Australia 
both men and women wear such tassels. There are 
still greater dangers in the wilderness. In Brazil there 
exists a small fish (Cetopsis candiru) which has a 
tendency towards boring itself into any of the exposed 
orifices of the body. It slips into the urethra, and is 
prevented by its fins from getting out again, and thus 
may easily bring about the death of the victim, to 
whom nothing remains but to attempt an impromptu 
operation by slitting open the urethra with his knife. 
Friederici remarks that it is just in those regions of 
tropical America where the protection of the penis is 
most prevalent that fish with sharp teeth (Pygocentrus 
species) are to be found which have a tendency towards 
attacking protruding unprotected parts of the body, 
thus often causing castration in men. 

There is no foundation for the assumption of Adolf 
Gerson that men invented the apron or resorted to 
binding up of the penis in order to hide its erection, 
which would make them appear ridiculous, for sex 
matters do not appear ridiculous to primitive people. 
In fact, such contrivances cannot hide sexual excite- 
ment. Many peoples who use them do not even have 
the wish to keep their excitement secret. Habit uation 
to nakedness ultimately lessens the stimulus to excite- 


rnent. The following fact, stated by Friederici, is 
worthy of notice : " During the many months in which 
I lived exclusively among the natives I never saw 
even the slightest sign of an erection in sleeping men, 
nor have I ever heard or read that any one else has 
noticed such a thing among naked primitive peoples, 
untouched by civilisation. Clothing has nothing to 
do with sexual feelings or modesty among primitive 
people. To the people living in the tropics clothes are 
essentially ornamental ; they are worn for reasons of 
vanity, not out of modesty. This can be well observed 
in those cases where loin-cloths which actually cover 
up the pubic region are raised without any consideration 
for people present, if there is any danger of their 
becoming soiled or injured. The Malay women in the 
central part of Luzon (Philippines), when working in 
the fields, discard their wrappings without worrying in 
the least if observed by the men. It is the same in 
other places. 

As has been said before, among some naked peoples 
it is the custom for the men to fasten up the penis 
without any covering under a hip band. In other 
places they tie up the foreskin with a thread. By this 
means protection is also given to the glans, but it is 
questionable whether this was always the origin of this 
custom. In fact, it is doubtful whether the need for 
protection was always the only reason for the wearing 
of sheaths, binders, etc., for at least among some of 
the people it is connected with some ceremonial which 


implies its sexual significance. In the case of women, 
another factor may have played a role, viz., the fact 
. that menstruation is considered an illness, as may be 
seen in the widespread custom of treating girls medi- 
cally during menstruation. The binder may have 
been intended to counteract the loss of blood. The 
stretching of the foreskin which results from the use 
of penis wraps, penis binders, etc., may be looked upon 
as a precaution against phimosis, serving the same 
purpose as circumcision does among numerous peoples. 
Sexual modesty with regard to the naked body 

* cannot be considered innate in mankind, for it is 
unknown among many naked peoples. On the other 
hand, there is an instinctive tendency in man to hide 
from his fellows the effluvia of the sexual and digestive 
organs. Thus H. Ellis (p. 40) gives a good explana- 
tion of the, impulse towards concealment during the 
sex act t j^_BoJth male and female need to guard them- 

* selves during the exercise of their sexual activities 
from jealous rivals, as well as from enemies who might 
take advantage of their position to attack them. It 
is highly probable that this is one important factor in 
the constitution of modesty, and it helps to explain 
how the male, not less than the female, cultivates 
modesty and shuns publicity in the exercise of sexual 
functions." The idea, begotten from fear, that sexual 
intercourse must be kept secret, became easily extended 
to the feeling that such intercourse was in itself 

. wrong. The mystery surrounding sexual intercourse 


has certainly been one of the factors leading to its con- 
cealment. \ Primitive man has a tendency towards 
endowing with supernatural powers all processes that 
he cannot understand ; they become sacred, and hence 
have to be carried out in privacy. The feeling of dis- 
gust may perhaps be an additional reason for the 
concealment of the sex act. The objects arousing 
disgust vary among different peoples according to the 
conditions of their lives ; but almost everywhere 
dangerous things are classed under this category, to 
which belong, according to the notion of primitive 
people, the discharges from the sexual and digestive 
organs. It thus comes about that primitive man is 
ashamed of urinating and defsecating even before 
persons of his own sex. Even the lowest savage will 
seek out a very secluded spot for the fulfilment of these 
functions. Thus Koch-Griinberg, for instance, says : 
' The Indian goes deep into the wood for a certain 
business, comparing favourably in this respect with our 
own peasants." Friederici writes of the Melanesians 
that they are not at all ashamed to show the sexual 
parts, but are extremely shy of exposing the anus, and 
will always avoid letting themselves be seen during 
defsecation. In the central districts the people betake 
themselves for this purpose early in the morning to 
some outlying place, while those living near the sea 
go to the beach, each person keeping as far away as 
possible from his neighbour. The Africans that have 
not yet become spoiled by contact with strangers 


also seek remote places (Weule and Schweinfurth) . 
The negroes, however, who are under Mohammedan 
influence, approach in this respect the beasts of the 

The tales of licentiousness among primitive people 
that are to be found in old works of travel are mostly 
invented or grossly exaggerated. Looseness and laxity 
do not exist anywhere, though the unwritten laws 
which regulate the behaviour of the sexes are different 
from ours. Unbridled indulgence is nowhere to be 
found ; the public performance of the sex act takes 
place only exceptionally among some peoples, and then 
for ceremonial purposes. Even where, on festival 
occasions, marital intercourse takes place as a matter 
of course, the couples disappear into the darkness. 
So far as can be judged from ethnological literature, 
Europeans have rarely had the opportunity of observ- 
ing the sex act, and then nearly exclusively among the 
African negroes, who must be reckoned the most 
sensual of all existing peoples." {See the works of Leo 
Frobenius and Georg Schweinfurth.) 



TRAVELLERS and missionaries, seeing things merely 
from the standpoint of European civilisation, have 
for a long time attributed to primitive people concep- 
tions of sexual behaviour like our own. But the real 
truth could not be hidden for long. It is now firmly 
established that the moral ideas of primitive people 
differ as widely from ours as does their sense of modesty. 
They do not consider sexual intercourse per se as 
immoral, and generally allow unmarried people full 
liberty. It is only where a more advanced civilisation 
leads to material considerations in the matter of sex 
relationship that, as a rule, this liberty is restricted or 
entirely in abeyance. ^Should any consequences ensue 
from the practice of free love, the lover is generally in 
duty bound to marry the girl. Among some tribes, 
however, no such obligation exists ; the lover may 
break off his connection with the pregnant girl. Fre- 
quently in cases of pre-marital pregnancy abortion is 
resorted to, which is very prevalent among primitive 
races. Among some people, on the contrary, a girl 
who has had a child gets married the more easily, for 
she has given proof of her fertility. Besides, the child 
will be an additional worker in the house. 


Most peoples demand conjugal fidelity from their 
married women, though we shall hear of some excep- 
tions. It is certainly not correct, as Buschan (1912, 
p. 237) says, that the rules concerning sexual inter- 
course are stringent throughout for women, and that 
only in a childless marriage may a woman take up with 
another man. 

Among many peoples, living so far apart as Asia, 
Australia, Oceania and Africa, we find that married 
men and women are in certain cases allowed inter- 
course with other persons. The full meaning of this 
arrangement is as yet unknown. 

The idea of sexual purity is not innate nor unchange- 
able. Ethnographical research has fully proved that 
purity in our sense of the term is unknown even to-day 
among many peoples, and that there exist no restric- 
tions upon sexual intercourse except for the preven- 
tion of cohabitation among blood relations. A greater 
or less degree of sexual liberty before marriage prevails 
among most of those peoples in Asia that are not under 
the influence of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. 
Indeed, it even exists among some uncivilised Hindu 
tribes, as, e.g., among the lower Hindu castes of Kash- 
mir and of the Punjab mountains, the various lower 
castes of Agra-Oudh, in the Central Provinces and 
Berar, and in Southern India ; but they restrict 
pre-marital relationship to persons of their own com- 
munity. Most Dravidian races, however, forbid inter- 
course between members of the same exogamic group, 


though it takes place at times in spite of this. The 
Mongolian races generally show indifference in this 
respect. Thus T. C. Hudson (p. 78) says of the Nagas 
in Manipur that they are conspicuous for their excep- 
tionally loose pre-marital relationship, although they 
demand strict fidelity in marriage. Pre-marital inter- 
course between persons to whom marriage is forbidden 
is not considered improper, which may be due to the 
fact that the Nagas, like the Australian tribes, are 
ignorant of the process of generation. 

Among many native Indian tribes the grown-up 
children do not sleep in their parents' huts, but in 
houses of their own, in which they commonly visit 
each other by night. Should a girl become pregnant, 
the probable father is expected to marry her. If he 
refuses, he has to pay damages, and the girl is at 
liberty to marry some one else, which she can do with- 
out any difficulty. Sometimes abortion is resorted to, 
especially when both persons belong to the same 
exogamic group, the members of which are not allowed 
to intermarry. The tribes of Baroda, the Maduvars 
of Madras, and the Ghasyas of the United Provinces, 
permit a probationary period of cohabitation. It is 
considered no disgrace for a girl if the trial marriage 
does not result in a permanent marriage. Among the 
Garps it is an unwritten law that after certain great 
festivals young men and women may sleep together. 
Otherwise these Garos, like the tribes and castes 
previously referred to, are strictly monogamous. 


Sexual promiscuity often occurs after feasts, and it is 
not restricted to the unmarried (Playfair, p. 68). 

It is only seldom that unfaithfulness on the part of 
married women is tolerated. But there are exceptions. 
Gait states that in the Djamna mountains the women 
of the Thakkar, Megh, and other low castes lead just 
as unrestrained a life after marriage as before. The 
Djats of Baluchistan are in ill repute because they 
incite their married women to unfaithfulness, if any 
advantage can be obtained thereby for the men. 
Certain nomadic castes, such as the Mirasis, prostitute 
their women, and the love affairs of married women 
of the servant class meet with no opposition, whatever. 
In the eastern region of Djamba, in the Punjab, the 
husband is expected to allow a guest free entrance to 
the women's chambers. In the western part of this 
province the Djats and Pathans will often take back 
married women who have eloped, and not rarely a 
husband will recognise as his own a son who may have 
been born while the woman was away. 

InJ>outhern India married women enjoy a great deal 
of sexual freedom, especially in those communities 
where the descent is reckoned in the female line. 
Where marriage between cousins is customary, grown- 
up girls are often married to quite young boys. During 
the immaturity of the husband the wife is allowed to 
have sexual relations with the father of her child 
husband or another near relation, sometimes even 
with any one member of the caste chosen by her. 


This custom also exists in Kashmir, not only among 
the Ladakhis, but also among other low Hindu castes, 
and is also to be found in other parts of the world. 
Many South Indian castes allow their married women 
much freedom with the relatives of their husbands. 
The Tootiyans go so far as to forbid a husband to enter 
his house if he finds the door locked and a relation's 
shoe before it. The Maloyali, a mountain tribe, accept 
unfaithfulness on the part of their wives quite lightly, 
unless the partner belongs to another caste ; if a 
woman lives for a time with a lover and has children 
during this time, the husband will on her return 
recognise the children as his own. The state of affairs 
is similar among the Kudans and Parivarams. Many 
low Hindu castes in North Kanara allow their women 
extra-marital intercourse with men of their own or of 
a higher caste. Among some castes, such as the 
Irulas and Kurumbas, formal marriage is completely 
unknown, an almost unbridled sexual promiscuity 
taking its place. A Korawa of Madras who has debts 
to pay either pawns or simply sells his wife. The 
Todas and other polyandrous communities of South 
India do not know jealousy (Rivers, 1906, p. 592 ; 
Iyer, I., p. 136). /An exception to the rule that faith- 
fulness in marriage is more strictly enforced than 
purity before marriage is to be found among the 
Pongalakapus of Madras, who allow extra-marital 
intercourse of married women, but punish that of 
unmarried girls and widows (Gait) . 

S.L. C 


The Veddahs of Ceylon, who, according to Paul and 
Fritz Sarasin, are physically and intellectually of the 
lowest human type, practise monogamy, which lasts 
until the death of one of the partners. Marital unfaith- 
fulness is rare, and leads to heavy punishment of the 
offending rival, who, as a rule, is assassinated. Only 
where foreign influence has become apparent is there 
a tendency to dissolve marriage before death (Paul 
and Fritz Sarasin). 

Hose and MacDougall mention that among the 
nomadic hunting tribes of Inner Borneo " the women 
are chaster after marriage than before." Apparently 
neither sex practises much restraint. A girl's preg- 
nancy generally results in her marriage with the father 
of the expected child. Amongst the settled tribes of 
Borneo a young man seeks a love affair as soon as he 
is attracted to the other sex ; he may have relations 
with several girls one after another, but generally 
marries early. The marriage age of the men is about 
twenty, of the girls still earlier. There is no informa- 
tion about their marital fidelity. 

The Dutchmen Hinlopen and Severijn state that in 
1852 they found on the Poggi Islands, on the west 
coast of Sumatra, a state of complete promiscuity. 
Some of the men are said to get married, but only very 
late, between the ages of forty and fifty, when their 
detailed tattooing is completed ; it is only seldom that 
a young man takes a separate wife. G. A. Wilken 
enumerates the following East Indian communities 


as living in sexual promiscuity : the Lubus, the 
Orang-Sakai of Malacca, the Olo-Ot, and other Bornean 
tribes ; the inhabitants of the island Peling. He 
adduces no evidence, however; and his statement is 
certainly incorrect as far as the Sakai of Malacca are 
concerned. Among the non-Christian tribes of the 
Philippine Islands considerable pre-marital liberty 
prevails. Among the Igorotes, e.g., the dormitory 
of the unmarried girls (the olag) serves also as the 
pairing place of the marriageable young people. In 
the villages young people, joking and laughing, can 
frequently be seen going about wrapped in one blanket 
and with their arms round each other. There is no 
secrecy about the wooing ; it is carried on mainly in 
the olag. Marriage rarely takes place without previous 
intercourse, and seldom before the girl is pregnant. 
An exception to this rule only occurs when a rich man 
marries a girl against her will at the parents' wish. 
Not infrequently a young man has affairs with two or 
three girls at one and the same time. The girls quite 
openly and unmistakably invite the men to go with 
them into the olag. As soon as a girl becomes preg- 
nant, she at once joyfully informs the father of the 
child, for these people are very fond of children. If 
the man refuses to marry the girl, there is likely to be 
tears, but no one is much concerned about the infidelity 
itself, because the girl can find a husband later on in 
spite of her having borne a child ; indeed, the more so, 
as there can be no doubt of her fertility. It is not 

c 2 


customary for married men to enter the olag. A 
young man, however, can go there if his former love 
has remained single and welcomes him, because she still 
has hopes of becoming his wife, for it is easy to get a 
separation, and if a man can afford it, he may have 
two or three wives, though polygamy is rare. A man 
whose wife is pregnant does not visit the olag, for it 
is feared that this may bring about a premature birth 
and cause the death of the child. Married women 
apparently remain always faithful (A. E. Jenks, p. 66). 
Ferdinand Blumentritt makes a statement, based on 
Spanish information, that the girls' houses of the 
Igorotes serve the purpose of ensuring pre-marital 
purity. This, however, is incorrect. 

Very similar customs prevail among the Naga 
tribes of Assam (Peal, pp. 244 et seq.). 

The pure Senoi and Semang tribes of the Malay 
Peninsula practise strict monogamy. Marriage takes 
place at an early age, sometimes between boys of 
fourteen and girls of thirteen. Even betrothals of 
children seem to occur. Marital unfaithfulness is 
punished with death (Martin, 1905, p. 864). 

In many districts of Australia, indeed, among the 
majority of the natives of the Australian continent, 
- there exist two forms of sexual union side by side. 
The one form consists in a girl's being given in mar- 
riage to one man without regard to the difference in 
ages, and also without any consideration for feelings 



of personal sympathy. Indeed, such is hardly possible, 
for the girls are given to the men at a very young age. 
The main cause of these unions is apparently economic. 
It ensures the man a housekeeper for himself who has 
to gather the largest share of provisions, for the result 
of the man's hunting yields only a very small part of 
the absolutely essential food. A man may have, 
according to his social position, one or more such 
housekeepers. In addition, each man and woman may 
form a union with one or more" ofthe other sex merely 
for the purpose of sexual intercourse. Unlike the 
" marriages " previously mentioned, these unions do 
not take place without any formality there is a 
special ceremony for the occasion. They do not last 
for life, at least among some of the tribes, but are 
regulated from time to time. This form of sexual 
union is generally called pirauru in ethnographical 
literature, after the designation in use among the tribes 
of the Dieri, where this kind of sex community was 
first observed. The men of a pirauru group are either 
consanguineous or collateral brothers, members of one 
and the same subdivision of the tribe ; similarly, the 
women of a pirauru group are consanguineous or col- 
lateral sisters. Sexual intercourse with a pirauru wife 
is allowed during the absence of the husband who 
is her usual mate, and also at special festivals. When 
a man's housekeeper dies, her children are cared for 
by one of his pirauru wives until he gets another 
housekeeper. "Without the institution of pirauru, the 


younger men would be barred from sexual intercourse. 
Many of them are without housekeepers, as most of 
the young women are in the possession of the older 
influential men. It has been said that the old men are 
often killed by the young men on this account (Spencer, 
p. n).\ The majority of the tribes that have the institu- 
tion of pirauru are ignorant of the connection between 
sexual intercourse and conception (see Chapter VI.). 
It is therefore not the production of progeny which 
seems to be the purpose of a common house- 
hold between man and woman, nor of the pirauru 

Institutions similar to the Australian pirauru also 
exist outside Australia. Codrington (p. 22) has estab- 
lished the fact that in the Solomon Islands and in other 
parts of Melanesia a woman of an exogamic group who 
is not yet married to one particular man may legiti- 
mately have sexual intercourse with all men of another 
exogamic group who are her potential husbands. The 
exogamic groups play a far more important role than 
individual marriage. In the Fijian Islands every man 
has the right to sexual intercourse with his wife's 
sisters. On special ceremonial occasions intercourse 
is permitted between those groups of men and women 
who stand in the relationship of possible conjugal 
partners (Thomson, p. 185). 

Pre-marital sexual freedom of both sexes exists, or 
did exist, all over the South Sea islands before the 
advent of European influence. Thus, e.g., Robert W. 


Williamson (pp. 172 176) writes of the Mafulus, in the 
mountains of New Guinea, that unmarried youths and 
maidens are allowed to associate with each other 
without any precautions. There exists a good deal of 
" immorality." Even after marriage (which takes 
place with an elaborate pretence of bride capture) 
husband and wife are, as a rule, not faithful to each 
other, the marriage bond being very loose. But it is 
said that unfaithfulness on the part of the women 
(though not of the men) is considered a great offence. 
The injured husband used to have the right of killing 
the guilty man, which he did, as a rule, until the British 
authorities put an end to the practice. Nowadays the 
deceived husband is generally satisfied if he receives a^ 
pig or some other article of value from the guilty rival. 

In Africa sexual community is allowed at certain 
periods among the Hereros (Brinker, p. 88). Among 
many other Bantu tribes sexual communism is custp; 
mary, particularly at the initiation of the young 
people. The girls, too, are allowed to choose male 
partners for a time, and among many tribes of South 
Africa it was customary for the girls who refused to 
be^giyen to men against their will. The Colonial 
Government has now put a stop to this^ (Theal). 

The statements about the Hottentots of South 
Africa vary. But the custom of sore, which is found 
among them, seems to point to the existence of an 
institution similar to the Australian pirauru. Schultze 


(pp. 299, 319) thinks that illicit love was punished 
among the Hottentots before the extensive immigra- 
tion of the white people into South Africa led to the 
overthrow of their old customs. Either the guilty couple 
were beaten, with the consent of the parents, or the 
lover received, in addition to his own, his sweetheart's 
share of punishment. But Schultze mentions also that 
the institution of sore, intended ostensibly for the 
exchange of love gifts, really means in many cases a 
secret agreement for intimate extra-marital relation- 
ship, though it is generally quite honourable. This 
institution is by no means an innovation. 

The Hamitic tribes of East Africa, who belong to 
the most warlike races of mankind, permit pre-marital 
intercourse of both sexes. A. C. Hollis (1909, pp. 16, 
77) says of the Nandi : " The unmarried warriors, as 
many as ten, sleep in the huts called sigiroinet, where 
the girls visit them and remain with them a few days, 
living with them in free love." Married women are not 
allowed to enter these huts. When the warriors go 
away for a time or go to war, their sweethearts keep 
the huts in order. Real " family life " is unknown, 
for the bigger boys and girls also live alone in special 
huts or together with the old women ; the little boys 
who serve the warriors sleep in their houses. There 
is no publicly recognised punishment for adultery ; 
but if a husband discovers another man not belonging 
to his mat (one of the subdivisions of each of the seven 
age classes) with his wife or one of his wives, he beats 


him severely. Adultery is also not considered wrong 
when it concerns a couple that have previously lived 
together in free love in the warriors' house, even when 
the woman does not belong to a mat comrade. When a 
Nandi travels and wishes to remain somewhere over- 
night, he must first of all apply to another member of 
his mat in the place. If there is one, and both men are 
married, the latter gives hospitality to the guest, com- 
missions his wife to fulfil his wishes, and leaves the 
hut in order to sleep elsewhere. The wife pours water 
over the hands of the guest, brings him a stool and 
food, puts his weapons into a place of safety, and spends 
the night with him. Should there be no member of 
his mat in the place, the traveller betakes himself to a 
member of the nearest mat; and, after having explained 
the situation, he is treated exactly as if both men 
belonged to the same mat. Members of different 
age classes do not offer each other hospitality or 
expect it. If the traveller is unmarried, he spends 
the night in the warriors' hut. Children born before 
marriage are killed by the Nandis, .only one group 
making an exception to this rule. 

The Masai have when travelling the same customs 
as the Nandis. Sexual intercourse with a girl or woman 
of the same age class is not considered wrong. A 
warrior marries the girl he makes pregnant. Children 
born before marriage are considered a disgrace. A 
person who has relations with a woman belonging to 
the paternal age class must beg pardon of the older 


men and give as reparation two oxen or a commen- 
surate quantity of honey wine. An old man who has 
sexual intercourse with his daughter or with another 
girl of her age is severely punished, if the affair comes to 
light : he is beaten, his kraal is pulled down, and his 
cattle are killed ad libitum (Hollis, 1905, pp. 287, 
312, 313)- 

Of the conditions existing among the Baganda in 
East Africa the missionary John Roscoe (p. 10) gives 
us the following picture : " Neither the men nor the 
women controlled their sexual cravings unless insur- 
mountable obstacles came in the way. Women, how- 
ever, could only attain their aims by stratagem. If 
an unmarried girl became pregnant, the guilty man had 
to pay a fine, and he was induced to marry the girl. 
If a husband discovered his wife with another man, 
he had the right to kill them both. Nevertheless 
the married women kept in strict seclusion used to 
receive lovers, which even the most dreadful punish- 
ments for adultery could not prevent." It has to be 
noticed that the social formation of classes was already 
greatly developed among the Baganda at the time 
described by Roscoe. The wealthy men were in a 
position to have as many wives as they could support, 
so that there was a scarcity of women for the remaining 
men. It is not remarkable, therefore, that these tried 
to meet this fact by force and cunning. Although 
married women were secluded, single girls had a fair 
amount of liberty. 


Among the Bushmen of South Africa, now nearly 
extinct, husband and wife remained faithful to each 
other for life. But if they became tired of each other, 
no hindrance was put in the way of separation and 
remarriage. A second husband, however, or a second 
wife was most probably never accepted into the family ; 
their passionate temperament was against it (Theal). 

About the Indians of North-west Brazil Koch-Griin- 
berg relates : "Whilst young girls enjoy the greatest 
liberty, their purity not being necessarily above sus- 
picion, marriage itself is generally on a higher plane ; a 
married couple are rarely unfaithful to each other." 
Koch-Griinberg has never noticed even the semblance 
of indecent behaviour between married people, nor 
under normal circumstances any serious quarrels or 
ugly scenes. The same or similar conditions prevail 
nearly all over South America where European influence 
is not yet predominant. Karl von den Steinen (p. 501) 
mentions one exception to this rule. The Bororos, 
who live on the St. Lourenco river, and who were visited 
by him, have greatly degenerated, thanks to the 
civilising arts of the Brazilians. A marriage is con- 
cluded without any formality and without the consent 
of the parents. The young wife remains with her 
children in her parents' house. The young husband 
only spends the night there ; during the day he lives 
in the men's house when he is not hunting. The 
young couple have a hearth for themselves, the grand- 


mother with the grandchildren sitting somewhat 
apart. Thus it remains up to the death of the grand- 
parents. The grandmother suckles the child when the 
young wife accompanies her husband on the hunt or 
fetches palm nuts from the woods ; she still has milk 
when her children marry. Young unmarried men live 
together in special men's houses. They look out 
betimes for wives. There are two customs which 
deserve our interest. A girl's ear-lobes are bored by 
her future husband. If he himself does not marry her, 
his son does so. Furthermore, the man who puts the 
penis cuff on a boy becomes related to him and marries 
his sister or his aunt. Girls were taken to the men's 
house quite openly by day, or were caught at night. 
These girls were not married to one man ; any children 
born were fathered on those men with whom the girl 
had had relations. This state of affairs is the result of 
the overweening power wielded by the older men. The 
women are their possession, and a regular income of 
arrows and trinkets is earned by hiring out the girls 
to the men's house. Unnatural intercourse is not un- 
known in the men's house, but it occurs only when there 
is an exceptionally great scarcity of girls. According 
to a statement of a native, the same conditions prevail 
in the remote villages, where some only of the members 
of a tribe have permanent possession of the women. 
But such information given by the natives must be 
accepted with great caution. No similar customs have 
become known anywhere else in South America. 


In North America the young people also had great 
liberty, but the married women dared not break their 
faith. Among many tribes, especially the nomadic 
hunting tribes, there existed patriarchal conditions, 
with complete subordination of the women. Inter- 
course with any one but their rightful husbands was 
taken in bad part. Nowadays the Indians of North 
America, with the exception of a small remnant living 
in the Canadian Tundra, have come under the influ- 
ence of Christianity. The probable existence of an 
earlier sex communism among the North American 
Indians has been described in full by L. H. Morgan. 

F. Nansen reports that among the Christian Eskimos 
of the west coast of Greenland the girls do not 
consider pre-marital motherhood as a disgrace. The 
green hair-band which the unmarried mothers have to 
wear is put on by them long before it is necessary. 
The young Greenland girls do not deem any conceal- 
ment of their love affairs necessary. In East Greenland, 
which has nojt_yet been reached by Christianity, it is 
customary for a man who wants a wife simply to abduct 
the girl from her house or tent. The abduction is often 
only a pretence, for the couple have settled it all 
between themselves. Formerly this form of marriage 
was in vogue all over Greenland. The relations look 
on quietly, for it is all a private affair of those imme- 
diately concerned. Should the girl really not wish to 
have the suitor, she will defend herself until she 
quietens down or the wooer renounces her. Divorce 


also takes place without any difficulties ; but generally 
the marriage is continued if there is a child, par- 
ticularly if it should be a boy. If a man covets the wife 
of another, he will take her without any hesitation, if 
he is the stronger. Among the non-Christian Eskimos 
most of the skilful hunters have two wives, but never 
more. The first__wife is generally looked upon as the 
superior. Temporary exchange of wives occurs up 
to the present time even among the Christians on 
the west coast, especially when the people have to 
spend the summer hunting the reindeer in the interior 
of the country. As a rule, married people live on 
exceptionally good terms with each other. 

Among the Netchili Eskimos near the Magnetic 
North Pole, however, conjugal harmony is, according 
to Roald Amundsen, not of the best. As a rule, the 
wife only escapes being beaten when she is stronger 
than the man. Exchange of women is quite common. 
Most of the girls are destined from birth for certain 
men, though sometimes things do not turn out as the 
parents wish it. When the girl is fourteen years old 
she seeks out her bridegroom, or he comes to her. 
There is no wedding. Amundsen doubts whether the 
couple have, as a rule, any tender feelings towards each 
other. The girl is just given to the man by the parents, 
the man marrying her in order to have one more 
domestic drudge, for in reality the wife is nothing 
more nor less than a domestic animal. Most Eskimos 
offer their wives to any one. 


Among the Kamchadales, Chukchee, Jukagiers 
and Tunguses of North Asia the girls have pre- 
marital liberty, and there exists no marital fidelity. 
W. Bogoras (p. 602) describes " group marriage " among 
the Chukchee, which seems to be an institution similar 
to the Australian pirauru. There are groups, consisting 
of up to ten men or women, that have the right to 
sexual intercourse with each other ; " but this right is 
comparatively rarely taken advantage of, only when a 
man has for some reason to visit the camp of one of 
his group companions. The host then gives up to him 
his place in the sleeping room, and if possible leaves 
the house for the night, going, for instance, to his flock. 
Afterwards the host generally seeks an opportunity 
of returning the visit, so as to exercise his rights in 
turn." The sex communities are generally composed 
of neighbours and friends. The offspring of brothers 
and sisters in the second and third generations are, as 
a rule, united in the same sex community, but not 
brothers. Bogoras thinks that the communities were 
originally limited to members of a group who were 
related, and were only later extended to other people ; 
the ceremonies at the formation of a group seem to 
imply this. The persons concerned bring sacrifices and 
anoint themselves with blood, first in the one and then 
in the other camp. The admission into a group of 
persons who greatly diverge from each other in age 
is not welcomed, and single men are also not willingly 
admitted. The inhabitants of one and the same camp 


are seldom willing to form a sex community, for 
reciprocal relationship is intended as an exception 
rather than the rule, though there are deviations from 
this rule. Every individual family of the Chukchee 
belongs in practice to some sex community. Should 
a family keep to themselves, it would indicate that 
they had no friends and no protectors in time of need. 
The children of members of a sex community are 
reckoned as near blood relations, and may not marry 
one another. 

It is quite different among the Koryaks, the neigh- 
bours of the Chukchee. They demand abstinence 
from the girls before marriage, and there is rarely any 
transgression against this law. Pregnancy before mar- 
riage is a disgrace, and unmarried mothers are forced 
to give birth in the wilderness. Children born before 
marriage are killed. After the advent of puberty the 
girls sleep in their " combinations/' which are fashioned 
in such a way as to exclude undesirable intercourse. 
Intercourse between engaged couples is also looked 
upon as sinful. Sometimes the girl lives with relatives 
in another place for a time, or is kept hidden until the 
bridegroom works off at her parents' home the service 
which he owes to them. Incest is strictly avoided, for 
it is feared that the evil-doers must die in consequence 
of it. The various prohibitions existing at the present 
day with regard to the marriage of certain consan- 
guineous or adopted relations are only of recent date ; 
they were unknown formerly (Jochelson, p. 733). 


Perhaps the other existing sexual customs are also the 
result of missionary activities. 

The above examples, chosen at random, plainly 
show that the conceptions of sexual morality generally 
held by primitive people are different from those 
prevalent under European civilisation. Very often 
these primitive customs have been greatly influenced 
or altogether exterminated by the example or the power 
of the European colonists. Whether this was of benefit 
to the races cannot be discussed here. 

After all, European morality is not so very superior 
to that of the " savages." As Georg Friederici (p. 85) 
pertinently says : " Almost everywhere in our society 
we shut our eyes to the fact that our young men do 
what is forbidden to them, but is permitted to the 
Melanesian and Polynesian girls. We admit the State 
regulation of prostitution or, to avoid greater scandal, 
even street prostitution ; yet we set out in moral 
indignation to reform the customs of primitive peoples 
which have proved their value and are consistent 
with their moral laws. Having nothing better to put 
in their place, we merely introduce among them what 
happens to be our own canker." 

Everywhere the fight against the traditional moral 
ideals has resulted merely in the introduction of prosti- 
tution, with all its corruption. We should therefore 
refrain from reforms that are misplaced, and should 
not attack customs that cannot be replaced by better 
ones, and that do not stand in the way of colonisation. 

S.L, D 



VERY often we find among primitive people that 
marriage is preceded by a pretended bride capture, 
though the couple themselves and their relations have 
agreed to the union. This gave occasion to the belief 
that the capture of women was formerly a widespread 
and original form of marriage. The pretended capture 
does not, however, seem to imply the existence of true 
" marriage by capture," but rather seems to indicate 
the fact that formerly brides were often given to men 
against their will and had to be forced to go with them. 
The fact that often the abducting bridegroom is in fun 
beaten by the brothers or other male relations of the 
girl does not exclude this conclusion, for the thrashing 
may be a later embellishment of the game of abduction, 
its purpose being to increase the pleasure of the guests 
by satisfying their spectacular desire. It is worthy of 
note that in Assam among the matriarchal Garos 
there is a pretended capture of the bridegroom. It 
would be a mistake to conclude from this that formerly 
mother-rule actually existed among the Garos. In the 
report on the ethnographical survey of the Indian 
Central Provinces (V., p. 53) it is stated that it was 


formerly customary among the Kulams to capture 
men for those of their girls who would otherwise have 
remained unmarried. 

Among the peoples whose girls are married at a very 
young age no wooing is customary, as, e.g., among the 
Dravidian Indians, the Australians, their near relations, 
and others. Marriage in these cases takes place without 
any or with very little ceremony (Jagor, Spencer, 
Howitt). It has been impossible so far in India to 
check the evil custom of child marriage ; on the con- 
trary, it is becoming more prevalent among the 
animistic tribes. 

Child engagements rather than child marriages are 
prevalent among many peoples, as among the Asiatic 
Polar races and the Eskimos of North America. But 
among most of these peoples free courtship exists. 
Thus Jochelson writes about the Koryaks in the 
extreme north-east of Asia : " If a Koryak falls in love 
with a girl, he generally sends a match-maker to the 
father of the girl ; but this is not always the case, and 
particularly so if the parents do not agree to the son's 
choice. Frequently the young man, without telling 
anybody of his intentions, goes to the girl's home and 
does all the work there which is seemly for a man. 
The father-in-law accepts his services also in silence. 
If he is pleased with the bridegroom, he entrusts him 
with commissions ; otherwise he lets him feel that he 
must leave the house. The bridegroom's service lasts 
from six months to three years. This service cannot 

D 2 


be conceived as ' payment ' for the bride, for the 
wealthier of the Konaks could pay with reindeer 
instead of working off the price of the bride. Besides, 
the bride receives a dowry of reindeer, which is worth 
much more than the service given by the son-in-law. 
This service is only an empty formality, if the wooer 
is an older man. It rather seems as if the main pur- 
pose of the service is to put the bridegroom to the test, 
for it is not the actual work done that is of most import- 
ance, but the harsh treatment that he has to endure 
and the meagre and laborious life that he is forced to 
lead. The service comes to an end whenever the 
father-in-law decides. The man then leads his bride 
home without any formality, although she at first 
pretends to struggle against it ; she gives up this 
pretence as soon as the man succeeds in touching her 
sex organs. Should a girl really not care for the 
man intended for her, she will attempt to escape in 
reality ; but she is ultimately forced by her parents 
into marriage. Often, however, the girl's inclination 
is taken into consideration before she is given into 

Among the inland tribes of Borneo young people 
get married as soon as they have reached maturity. 
The young man sends a confidential friend to the parents 
of the girl desired, who, as a matter of form, make 
objections and invent all manner of excuses. Only 
after the second or third visit of the go-between is the 
matter taken at all seriously and a decision arrived at. 


If the parents agree, they receive from the go-between 
presents sent by the bridegroom, and the girl sends 
her lover strings of pearls. The time of the new moon 
is considered the best time for marriage. The wedding 
day is kept count of by both parties having strings 
with an equal number of knots, from which one knot 
is cut off each day. The marriage is celebrated with 
festivities, the bridegroom and guests appearing in 
war dress ; there is great feasting and much ceremony 
(Hose and McDougall, II., pp. 171 et seq.}. 

Among the Mafulu, a hill tribe of New Guinea, child 
engagements are frequent, but the courting of adults 
seems to predominate. R. W. Williamson writes 
(p. 170) that in one case known to him a girl of sixteen 
or seventeen years old was looked upon as married to 
the yet unborn son of a chief. When the boy died in 
early childhood, the girl was reckoned to be his widow. 
If a young Mafulu youth wishes to 'marry and does not 
know where to look for a bride, he will sometimes 
light a fire outside the village ; he will wait to see in 
which direction the next gust of wind will blow the 
smoke, and there he will turn to seek a wife. Often 
the youth carries about with him a bag with small 
pieces of wood and stone. He rubs a piece of tobacco 
between two pieces and sends it to the girl of his choice 
by one of her female relatives. He believes that by 
this procedure the girl's heart will be turned towards 
him through some mysterious power. The young men 
often obtain the necessary pieces of wood or stone 


from a magician. The offer of marriage is also made 
through a third person, generally a woman. The 
consent of the parents is necessary ; the marriage 
takes place without any special ceremony. 

Among the pigmy races of Asia and Africa child 
marriage exists side by side with adult courtship. Of the 
Negritos of Zambales (Philippine Islands) W. A. Reed 
(p. 56) says that the suitor has to pay a price for the 
bride. The parents try to bargain for as much as 
possible, and it is only when these demands have been 
fulfilled that the daughter has any choice in the matter. 
The young man who has found a suitable girl informs 
his family of the fact ; they decide how much the girl 
is worth and how much must be paid for her. There- 
upon the suitor or a relative inquires of the girl's 
family whether they agree to the marriage. If they 
do, the purchase price is brought within a few days, 
and in case this proves satisfactory to the parents 
these give their consent. In many cases the girls are 
already in early youth promised to the boys chosen 
by the parents, but the children remain with their 
parents until maturity. Sometimes little girls are 
given to grown-up men, so that the difference in ages 
is great, and the girls very unwillingly obey their 
parents' will. When two families have daughters and 
sons the girls are exchanged as wives without either 
of the families paying a price. It is said that slaves and 
stolen strange children are given as payment for the 
bride. It is doubtful, however, according to W. A. Reed, 


whether this still occurs. In many parts of the country 
the settlement of the price is followed by feasting and 
dancing, at which pretended capture of the bride plays 
a great rdle. 

Among the Hamites of East Africa the custom exists 
of assigning girls still far from mature as wives to 
certain adult men. If, e.g., a Masai wishes to marry, 
he courts a very young girl, whose father receives 
presents repeatedly. After the ritual operation is 
performed upon the girl the young man goes to live 
in the house of his father-in-law, bringing with him as 
gifts three cows and two oxen. When the time comes 
for taking the bride home, an additional present of 
three sheep is made. The girl puts on her bridal dress 
and follows the man without further ceremony. A 
man who possesses a big herd of cattle can have many 
wives, some rich men having as many as ten or twenty 
wives (Hollis, 1905, pp. 302, 303). 

Among the negroes adult people have the right to 
choose their mates, though choice is restricted through 
various traditional considerations. Child engagements 
are not uncommon. Thus among the Bantus it is 
even to-day often customary to assign children at an 
early age to each other for marriage. Weule (p. 58) 
says of the Jaos in East Africa : " It is a general custom 
for a woman who has just given birth to a child to say to 
a pregnant neighbour : ' I have a daughter ' (or r a son ') ; 
if your child proves to be a son ' (or ' a daughter ') , ' they 
shall marry each other.' The other generally agrees. 


and this arrangement is adhered to later. For adults 
there exist no special rules in the choice of mates 
nowadays, and it is doubtful whether such existed 
previously. If a serf wants to marry, he tells his 
father, who informs the master. The latter then speaks 
with the father of the chosen girl. If the father agrees, 
the daughter is brought in and asked for her opinion. 
If she is not willing to marry the suitor, the affair is 
at an end. If she agrees, the relatives, with the 
master at the head, consult together, and the decision is 
then made. Among the Mokondes in the north of the 
Rowuma river the young man looking out for marriage 
lets his parents negotiate with the girl's parents. It 
they come to an agreement, the bridegroom gives the 
bride's parents a present, which makes the affair 
binding. Among the more conservative classes the 
eldest brother of the girl's mother also has a voice 
in the matter, getting a share of the bridegroom's 
presents. In olden times a Makonde boy lived after 
his circumcision with one of his maternal uncles, into 
whose family he afterwards married. If there were 
no girls in the family, he waited for a cousin. The 
young man had to do all the work at his uncle's house 
until the daughter grew up. Among the Makuas the 
suitor himself goes to the girl's father, who again must 
get the consent of the mother's eldest brother. Often 
all the brothers, instead of one, must be consulted. 
The suitor goes the next day for his answer. If the 
answer is ' Yes,' the time for the wedding is appointed, 


at which well-meant speeches are made, and advice is 
given to the bridal pair. As a rule, the couple are 
more or less of the same age, but it sometimes happens 
that young girls are married by men much older than 

Of the Hottentots Schultze (p. 297) writes : "A man 
who wishes to get a confession of love from the girl of 
his choice gives her a little piece of wood. If the two 
have come to an agreement, they break it, each holding 
at one end, and then they throw the broken pieces at 
each other's chest. The couple then commence court- 
ing, during which time they are not allowed to speak 
a word with each other or to reach each other any- 
thing. An intermediary acts between them for this 
purpose. Transgressions have to be expiated by 
presents. It is all an amorous game of hide-and-seek, 
which has hardened into a rigid custom. It can 
continue thus for months or for a year, and longer, 
before the affair ripens. This can happen in two ways : 
either openly by the parents' consent being asked, 
or secretly by means of a symbolic action which 
expresses the girl's agreement to complete surrender. 
The young man draws off one of his skin shoes 
and throws it to the girl in private. If she dis- 
regards the shoe, the proposal for an early union 
is rejected ; in the contrary case she gives the shoe 
back. When the wedding is to come off, the parents 
negotiate with each other for some time, but more 
in pretence than real earnest. When an agreement 


has been reached, the marriage is celebrated with 

Among the Indians marriage is entered into by free 
courtship, though girls in particular, just as with us, 
are greatly dependent upon the will of their parents. 
The girls marry sometimes at a very early age, but 
marriage before maturity seems non-existent. 

Koch-Grunberg (I., pp. 181, 182) says of the Siusis 
that the choice of partners is not always the affair of 
those directly concerned. Often the parents, or the 
father alone, choose the husband for the daughter. 
The parents have no such strong influence on the son's 
choice. The wedding is celebrated by dancing, which 
goes on for several days at the house of the bride's 
father. At the end of the festivities the latter makes 
a long speech to his son-in-law, and gives him over 
his daughter as wife, wherewith the marriage is 
consummated. The young wife goes to her husband's 
house, which, as a rule, also serves as the home 
of her parents-in-law. The trousseau is generally 

Among the Kobeua Indians of the Upper Rio Negro 
a young man wishing to marry asks the permission of 
the father of his bride-elect. If he consents, the 
bridegroom remains for five days in the house of his 
parents-in-law, and a big dance and banquet is 
held, in which many guests take part. At the end 
of the feast the father gives over his daughter to his 
son-in-law, whereupon the couple go off, the father 


breaking out into a ceremonial lament. Amongst 
some races capture of women is said to be still cus- 
tomary. In any case the wife has to be from another 
tribe. Evidence of woman capture is still to be found 
in the tradition of the tribe (Koch-Griinberg, II., 
pp. 144, 145). 

The Bakairis have no wedding celebrations. The 
marriage is discussed by the parents. If they come 
to an agreement, the bride's father receives some 
trifles as a present. The bridegroom hangs up his 
hammock above that of the girl, and everything is 
settled. It is only where the tribe has fallen into decay 
that great differences in the ages of the married people 
occur, and that older men in particular have the privi- 
lege of possessing young wives (compare Chapter II.). 
Divorce can be got without difficulty, even when 
the man is unwilling. 

Among the Paressis the marriage is arranged by the 
parents on both sides, and the bride, after having 
received a few presents, is led by her parents without 
any formality to her bridegroom's hammock (von den 
Steinen, pp. 331, 434). 

The custom of paying a price for the bride, prevalent 
among many races all over the world, is frequently 
spoken of as marriage by purchase. The price is very 
varied, and its value very unequal, but as a rule it is 
relatively small, and not infrequently it is so small as 
to have no economic value for the parents-in-law. 
Among the animistic tribes of British India, who, as a 


rule, pay a price for the bride, the sum may be as much 
as 200 rupees. Generally more is paid for a virgin than 
for a widow ; but there are some Indian castes of manual 
labourers among whom the woman takes a share in the 
industrial work, and among whom the reverse is the case. 
It sometimes happens that the price is adjusted accord- 
ing to the age of the bride. Often brides are exchanged 
between two families, so that the payment of a price 
is dispensed with. " Marriage by service " still per- 
sists in various places, especially in Asia. Here the 
future son-in-law, instead of paying a price for the 
bride, has to work a certain number of years for the 
father of the bride. Among most primitive people the 
woman represents labour power in the house, as the 
men, either wholly or to a large extent, occupy them- 
selves with social concerns (E. Hahn). Domestic 
prosperity depends wholly on the women's work. 
Thus it can easily be seen how the custom came about 
of demanding some service from the man who wanted 
a wife. Real purchase of a wife occurs only excep- 
tionally among primitive people. It is never the rule, 
nor is the woman a real object of barter. If actual 
sale of women occurs in some cases, it is only an excep- 
tion. Such cases are only frequent where the influence 
of Islam is most pronounced. 

The bride price is wholly or partly paid back should 
the wife run away, or even if she meets with an early 
death. If there are sisters, the forsaken husband or 
widower may sometimes forego the restitution of 


the price paid and accept one of the sisters as his 

In India a price for the bridegroom is paid, not only 
among the upper castes of the civilised races, but also 
occasionally among the lower castes and among the 
primitive natives. 



BY far the greatest numberjof primitive peoples are 
monogamous. Only in relatively few cases is there 
polyandry. Polygyny often occurs among persons 
who are specially favoured, either economically or 
socially ; but it is nowhere the form of marriage of the 
majority of the population. The polygyny reported 
among certain tribes generally refers only to chiefs, 
magic doctors, or some other special persons who 
have more than one wife. Sexual group communism 
at the side of monogamy or polyandry has been found 
in various places, but it is wrong to speak of it as 
" group marriage/' This is evident from the previously 
quoted examples of the pirauru in Australia, the sex 
communities among the Chukchee, the Nandi, Masai, 
and others. It is possible, of course, that monogamy 
' which now co-exists with certain cases of sex com- 
munism may have been a later addition, but this is 
not proven. It is more likely that the pairing instinct 
(not identical with the instinct of procreation) is 
characteristic of our sub-human ancestors. In fact, 
even in the animal world there are numerous examples 
of monogamy (P. Deegener). 

It has been established that in Africa, Indonesia, 


Melanesia, and elsewhere, the small children remain 
with their parents, while the bigger children are lodged 
together in special boys' and girls' houses, and are, as 
it were, brought up communally. The relationship 
of the children to their own parents is not notably 
closer than that between them and other persons of 
the same age class. We must not look upon this child 
communism solely as a curiosity, but as the relic of a 
very ancient primitive institution. Most likely there 
is some connection between child communism and the 
interchange of children which is customary, for example, 
among the Dravidian races of India (" Ethnographical 
Survey of the Central India Agency ") and on the 
Murray Islands, in the Torres Straits (Australia) . 
According to W. H. R. Rivers (1907, p. 318), the 
interchange of children between families is very 
frequent here without the peoples being able to give 
any explanation of it. Nor do other social and religious 
institutions offer any indication as to the origin of this 
custom. Rivers surmises that it has been preserved from 
a social organisation in which " children were largely 
common to the women of the group so far as nurture 
was concerned." At any rate, this adoption en masse 
will help civilised man to understand that less civilised 
peoples have ideas about parenthood different from 
those that exist among us, and also that group mother- 
hood is not absurd. The existence of group motherhood 
among primitive communities whose members were 
much more dependent on each other in the struggle for 


existence than are the members of much more advanced 
societies must often have been of considerable advan- 
tage to these communities. On the assumption of 
" group motherhood " it is easily explainable that 
children use the same mode of address for their own 
sisters and brothers as for all the other children of the 
group, and that all the women of equal ages are called 
" mother." Hence the classificatory system of rela- 
tionship ceases to be puzzling. It becomes clear why 
under this system whole groups of persons designate 
each other as husbands and wives, and why the children 
of all the persons of these groups call each other 
brothers and sisters, etc. The assumption is justified 
that man in a low state of civilisation knew only group 
relationship ; further distinctions were derived only 
later from these relationships, the present-day classifica- 
tory system arising ultimately from them. Among the 
peoples where Rivers could examine this system there 
were indications of a development in the direction of 
using it rather for the distinction of real blood and 
marriage relationship than for the distinction of social 
position, for which it was originally intended. A 
connection between marriage regulation and the 
classificatory system of relationships exists not only 
among the Dravidian races, but also among the 
North American Indians, and certainly among other 
branches of the human race. Rivers says : " The 
classificatory system in one form or another is spread 
so widely over the world as to make it probable that 


it had its origin in some universal stage of social develop- 
ment " ; and further he says :/"JThe kind of society 
which most readily accounts for its chief features is one 
characterised by a form of marriage in which definite 
groups of men are the husbands of definite groups of 
women." ' Rivers does not mean thereby institutions 
like the piraum, but a permanent group marriage. 
It may be objected against this latter assumption that 
permanent (not occasional) sex communism does not 
necessarily need to be connected with communism of 
children. It is quite possible that monogamy and 
child communism may exist side by side, as, e.g., among 
the Murray Islanders. 

But even if group marriage did really exist in some 
places, and if the existence of child communism would 
prove this, it still cannot be asserted that it is a phase 
of development through which all human races have 
passed. For the assumption of a parallel development 
of all races is untenable. It is true the basic psychic 
organisation is the same for all human beings, being 
due to the common descent of mankind. But owing 
to the continual adaptation to changing environmental 
conditions, it was not preserved, but underwent different 
changes. There is no ground for the assumption that, 
while environmental changes brought about bodily 
modifications, mental changes did not take place also, 
therewith leading at the same time to differences in 
social culture. On the contrary, we must rather 
assume that together with anthropological variations 

S.L. B 


among the races there also arose variations in social 
development, the different civilisations resulting from 
differentiated mental dispositions and deviating more 
and more from each other. Certain elements of the 
original primitive civilisation have been preserved in 
the various later developments, but not everywhere the 
same elements, nor were the differentiations that did 
take place all of the same degree. Certain fundamental 
conceptions may remain unchanged for long periods, 
and may produce analogous phenomena in different 
civilisations. Since deviations from monogamy are 
extremely rare among primitive peoples, the assump- 
tion is justified that monogamy^ is one of the funda- 
mental factors of human civilisation. How could its 
practically universal occurrence be explained other- 
wise ? There can be no question of convergence, nor 
has a world- wide transmission of a cultural element that 
has arisen later been proved up to the present. 

The opinion, first expressed by L. H. Morgan, that the 
classificatory relationship system is evidence of the exist- 
ence of group marriage (not merely in the form of pirauru 
existing at the side of monogamy) , is contradicted by the 
etymological meaning of the terms used by primi- 
tive people, which are generally translated by " father," 
"mother," " grandfather," "brother," "sister, ""child," 
etc. These collective names show nowhere an allusion to 
procreation, but only to age differences : father and 
mother are the " elder," the " big ones," the " grown- 
ups " ; the children are the " little ones," the " young 


ones " ; brothers and sisters are the " comrades." We 
often find that among the Australian negroes and the 
South Sea islanders no distinction is made between 
father and mother. All persons of an older generation 
of a horde or a totem (or of a phratry respectively) 
are simply the " elder," the " big ones." If a native 
wishes to indicate more clearly the sex of a person of 
an older class, he must add the word " man " or 
" woman " (or the adjective " male " or " female "). 
It often happens that grandparents and grandchildren 
use the same form of address, which in no way refers 
to descent (Cunow). Other facts point to the same 
conclusion. Where the pirauru exists in Australia, 
the same form of address is used for persons standing in 
piraunt relationship to the speaker as for members 
of the same age class who have no such relationship. 
This could not be so if the appellation had originated 
from common sexual relationship. Cunow rightly 
concludes : " Sexual communities can be proved to 
exist here and there among primitive peoples, but the 
nomenclature of the classificatory relationships has 
not grown out of such group relationships. These 
so-called group marriages are rather adventitious 
growths, playing only a secondary role in the history 
of the family." 

Buschan (1912, p. 254) looks upon the pre-marital 
sexual freedom of girls among many primitive peoples 
(most probably among the majority of them) as a 
relic of communal marriage from earlier times. He 

E 2 


assumes that the girls had promiscuous relationships 
with the other sex. This, however, is not the case. 
As a rule, couples meet together for a time, and only 
rarely does a person have relationship with several 
persons at the same time. The conditions are essen- 
tially the same as in Europe, except that amongst 
" savages " a love affair going as far as intercourse is 
not considered immoral. The assumption of many 
authors that man is polygynous is far from being 
proved, at least not in the sense that the majority of 
men are inclined to have relationship with several 
women at the same time. It cannot, however, be 
disputed that after some time the relationship between 
two people tends to lose its attraction, often causing 
a breaking of the marriage vow. 

There is a custom among many peoples that a man's 
widow falls to his younger brother (or cousin) the 
levirate. According to another custom, a man has 
the right to marry the sisters of his wife. Both these 
customs have been explained as being relics of a form 
of marriage in which brothers married several sisters 
or sisters married brothers at the same time (Frazer, 
II., p. 144). But it seems much more likely that 
we have here before us merely a case of property 

Even if constancy in marriage is not the rule, espe- 
cially among primitive people, yet we must still regard 
the permanent living together of one man and one 
woman as a state that has always prevailed amongst 


human beings (Westermarck) . Many of the specula- 
tions, at first sight so learned, about the apparently 
intricate paths in the development of marriage, remain 
merely speculations which cannot stand the test 
of modern ethnological research. Heinrich Schurtz 
(p. 175) makes the pertinent remark that nothing 
excited the hostile camps of the sociological idealists 
and naturalists more than the dispute about promiscuity 
in primitive times. While the one party painted with 
zest the indiscriminate and irregular sex relationship 
of primitive races, claiming it as an established original 
stage in human development, the adherents of idealism 
rose in indignation against a theory that places primitive 
man far below the level of the higher animals, and that 
leaves the riddle unsolved how such a chaos could lead 
to the idea of sexual purity and a spiritualisation of 
the sexual impulse. In this battle for and against 
promiscuity even facts were unfortunately too often 
not respected, attempts being made to disregard them 
at any cost. This cannot be good for the ultimate 
victory of truth. Facts should not be passed over, but 
should be taken into full consideration. In this con- 
flict of opinions the institution of pirauru especially 
has fared particularly badly. Some anthropologists 
wanted to do away with it altogether at any price (for 
instance, Josef Miiller) ; others drew conclusions from 
it that are utterly unjustified. But even if this were 
not so, even if the pirauru could be used as a proof of 
previous sexual promiscuity, it still does not follow 


that it was a general custom in man, for the majority 
of the peoples show no trace of it. 

First of all, it must be noticed that even the pirauru 
possesses various restrictions upon marriage with 
persons outside certain groups, which alone exclude 
unrestrained promiscuity. Furthermore, individual 
marriage, the binding force of which is undoubtedly even 
stronger and closer, is well known to exist beside it. 
There is a good deal of probability for the assumption 
of Schurtz that marriage regulations establishing the 
right of several men to one wife may first have arisen 
from mere friendly acts, or the original sexual 
licentiousness may have developed occasionally under 
specially favourable circumstances into the institution 
of pirauru, while at other places such a systematic 
development did not take place. It is easily to be under- 
stood that lower civilisations will show a looser standard 
of the merriage bond than those where many interests of 
a rich cultural development require the strengthening 
of this bond. Sexual needs may also have brought 
about the origin of the pirauru institutions. Thus 
there exist in Australia. tribes among which the loan 
of wives was customary owing to the scarcity of women. 
There is only one step from this state of affairs to the 
pirauru. Among many tribes complicated marriage 
restrictions make a " legitimate " marriage very 
difficult, and this may easily lead to other sex relation- 
ships taking the place of marriage. 

It is a mistake to assume hastily that customs 


among primitive people that appear strange to us 
must therefore be ancient and be relics of a primitive 
state. Every primitive race has a long history behind 
it, and it is not likely that it has remained static all the 
time. Primitive people are not stationary in develop- 
ment ; there is much change among them in the course 
of generations. This applies also to customs and 
habits which seem absolutely stable. External condi- 
tions may produce new developments, or result in 
foreign influences. Not everything, therefore, that is 
peculiar to uncivilised races of the present day must be 
look upon as primitive. 

Polyandry deserves our special consideration. As a 
recognised social institution it has so far been definitely 
established only among the Indian peoples and castes, 
as well as in Tibet, on the borders of Northern India. 
In exceptional cases polyandry occurs among the 
Eskimos and the Asiatic Polar races. The older 
accounts of polyandry occurring in Australia are not 
confirmed by the new ethnographical literature. The 
reports about polyandry among the American Indians 
are also incorrect. John Roscoe (1907, pp. 99 et seq.) 
has proved its existence among the Bahima and Baziba 
tribes of Central Africa, though here polyandry is not 
the rule, but is only practised occasionally. If a man 
is poor, if he cannot get together the number of cows 
required for the bride price, or if he is unable to support 
a wife, he can combine with one or several of his brothers 
and take a wife in common with them. It is easy to 


get the women for this purpose. Furthermore, among 
these tribes the housewife may be claimed by a guest, 
while exchange of wives also occurs. 

In India polyandry is prevalent among the peoples 
of the Himalayan mountains and among some Southern 
Indian tribes. Some cases of this curious form of 
marriage are already mentioned in the ancient Indian 
literature. It may be assumed, therefore, that it was 
more prevalent formerly than at present. This institu- 
tion was certainly never very general nor of great 
importance in the life of the people of India. At the 
present time it is restricted to a number of compara- 
tively small tribes and castes. Two forms of polyandry 
can be distinguished among them, namely, the fraternal 
form, where several brothers or cousins have one wife 
in common, and the matriarchal form, where a woman 
has several husbands, not necessarily related to each 

In Northern India polyandry is general among the 
Tibetans and Bhotias of the Himalayan border districts. 
Here, when the oldest of several brothers takes a wife, 
she has the right but not the duty to have sexual 
relationship with the other brothers living in the same 
household. If a younger brother also marries, the 
other still younger brothers have the choice in which 
household they wish to live. The surplus women 
become nuns. This system is said to be due to the 
poverty of the country. The Himalayan peoples, 
being intent on preventing the increase of the popula- 


tion and a further reduction of the means of existence, 
consign many women to celibacy and childlessness. 
Yet at the same time they make it possible, by this 
system, for the socially privileged man to satisfy his 
sexual needs. The children of polyandrous marriages 
belong, as a rule, legally to the oldest brother. But 
it also occurs that each brother in turn, according to 
his age, has a child assigned to him regardless of 
whether the brother concerned was on the spot at 
the time of the child's conception. Sometimes the 
mother has the right to name the father of each of her 

Fraternal polyandry also exists in Cashmir and 
among certain Sudra castes of the Punjab mountains. 
In the Punjab, however, the Rajputs and other castes 
of that neighbourhood are also influenced by polyandry. 
The ceremonies which take place at marriage in the 
Punjab bear traces of " marriage by capture/' The 
dwellings of the polyandrous castes of this district 
consist of two rooms, one for the woman and one 
for the group of brothers. In Tibet, as also among 
the polyandrous Southern Indians, they have, however, 
mostly one room. The surplus women in the Punjab 
become objects of commerce. In the native State of 
Bashar, for instance, an active export trade is carried 
on with the surplus women, for whom sums up to 500 
rupees are given. 

Among the Dyats in the Punjab, the Gudyars in the 
United Provinces, as among all the Hindu castes in the 


mountain districts of Ambala, polyandry existed until 
lately ; but it is said not to do so there any longer. 
In Ambala not only brothers, but also first cousins, 
were considered to be husbands of the oldest brother's 

Further, in East India the Santal caste (2,138,000 
persons in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa) is the only 
community among which a similar custom exists. 
Among the Santals not only have the younger brothers 
access to the wife of the older brother, but the husband 
also may have relations with the younger sisters of his 
wife. This state of affairs may perhaps be looked upon 
as sexual communism among a small group. In 
Ladakh, too, and in other places of Cashmir, the wife 
common to several brothers may bring with her her 
sister into the marriage as co-partner. In the Punjab 
the fraternal husbands may also marry a second and 
third wife. 

Among Indian migratory labourers it seems to have 
been formerly the rule that the brother remaining at 
home served as a conjugal substitute for the husband 
temporarily absent. Nowadays this custom has almost 

In Southern India polyandry is a recognised institu- 
tion among the Toda and Kurumba of the Nilgiri 
mountains, as also among a number of the lower 
castes, especially on the coast of Malabar. Here 
polyandry and polygyny occasionally co-exist side by 


The polyandry among the Toda has been described 
in detail by W. H. R. Rivers. The whole tribe is 
divided into two endogamous groups, which, again, are 
split up into a number of exogamous sub-groups. The 
husbands shared in common by a woman are in most 
cases brothers ; they are rarely other members of the 
same exogamous group and of the same age class. 
When the husbands are brothers, there never ensue 
any quarrels about access to the wife. All the brothers 
are reckoned as fathers of a child. Yet it often 
occurs that a Toda only calls one man his father. It 
is exclusively external circumstances that are here 
decisive ; often one of the fathers is more influential 
and more respected than his brothers, and naturally 
the sons prefer to speak of him as their father. If only 
one of the fathers is alive, the offspring always describe 
him as their father. If the husbands are not real 
brothers, they live, like these, in one household, but the 
children are allotted to single definite fathers. That 
man is considered the father of a child who in the 
seventh month of the mother's pregnancy has gone 
with her through the ceremony of the presentation of 
bow and arrow (which is also customary in fraternal 
polyandry). The husbands may take turns in the 
practice of this ceremony at every pregnancy ; it 
results, therefore, frequently that the first two or three 
children belong to one and the same man, the other 
husbands acquiring formal father-right only at the 
later births. If the husbands separate and give up 


the common household, each one takes with him the 
children belonging to him by right of the bow-and- 
arrow ceremony. As everywhere else in India, poly- 
andry has fallen into decay among the Toda. It may 
happen that several men have in common several 
wives, or that of a group of brothers each has his own 
wife. But polyandry has remained up to the present 
time the prevalent form of marriage among these hill- 
folk. The surplus girls used formerly to be killed 
without exception ; and it is certain, says Rivers, that 
girl infanticide is still practised to some extent, although 
the Toda themselves deny this. It must be noted that 
child marriage exists among the Toda. 

Matriarchal polyandry, which, in contradistinction to 
fraternal polyandry, goes with descent through the 
mother, still occurs among the Munduvars of the 
Travancore plateaus, the Nayars in some parts of 
Travancore and Cochin, the Western Kalian, and also 
among some other Southern Indian communities. 
Among numerous other races having mother descent, but 
not among all, relics of the former existence of matri- 
archal polyandry have been established. The secular 
authorities, and no less the European missions, are 
trying hard to exterminate this form of marriage. 

It is difficult to trace any connection between the 
polyandry in the north and that in the south of India. 
It is most probable that this custom was carried into 
Southern India by the Tibetan conquerors in ancient 
times. Many Southern Indian polyandrous races, 


like the Toda and the Nayar, are distinguished from 
their real Dravidian neighbours by their more powerful 
build, lighter colouring, higher noses, etc. Further- 
more, the architecture of the Malabar temples bears 
traces of Tibetan influence. The demon masks carved 
thereon show almost the same faces as the Tibetan 
masks. Among the Kalian the tradition of northern 
descent has been preserved up to the present time, 
and they bury their dead with their faces turned towards 
the north. 

Exogamy is the custom which forbids the choice 
of partners for marriage within a certain group, and 
which has the effect of preventing near relations from 
sexual intercourse. It is found very frequently among 
primitive people, and is very prevalent, as Sir J. G. 
Frazer shows in his book " Totemism and Exogamy." 
This, however, does in no way justify the assumption 
that it was a general stage of civilisation of all mankind, 
and that it once existed even in those places where it 
is not found to-day. 

Although European travellers, colonists and scientists 
had long been in contact with coloured races, it was the 
Scotsman J. F. McLennan who first discovered the 
existence of exogamy. He was led to this discovery 
by the study of that peculiar marriage custom which 
consists in the pretence of forcible bride capture, 
though the marriage of the couple concerned has been 
agreed to by both families beforehand. McLennan 


tried to find an explanation for this custom, and came 
to the conclusion that capture of women, which only 
took place in pretence, must once have been practised 
in reality to a large extent. In searching for facts con- 
firmatory of this assumption, he was struck by the 
fact that among savage and barbarous people the men 
married women not of their own, but of another, tribal 
group. He described this as " exogamy/' in contradis- 
tinction to "endogamy," by which marriage partners are 
restricted in their choice to their own group. In a tribe 
or other social group both sexual arrangements may 
exist side by side, in such a manner that the tribe is 
closely endogamous and is divided into several exo- 
gamous groups. 

The theory put forward by McLennan as an explana- 
tion of the origin of exogamy is very simple and on 
superficial examination very convincing. He assumed 
that exogamy arose from a scarcity of women, which 
forced men to obtain wives by capture from other 
groups and thus gradually led to a general preference 
for strange women. The cause of this assumed scarcity 
of women was considered to be the infanticide of new- 
born females, which was carried on systematically, for 
savage people foresaw that in the struggle for existence 
it would be a hindrance to have a great number of 
women, who could take no share in the battle with 
enemies, and who presumably would contribute less 
to the food supply than the men. 

H. Cunow also traces back the origin of exogamy 


to the scarcity of women and wife capture. He starts 
from the assumption that among the Australian and 
other uncivilised races the number of persons in a 
horde is very limited. " If one assumes that the 
number of members of a horde is sixty, the youngest 
class would contain, according to present-day reckon- 
ing, about twenty-five persons, the middle class 
twenty, and the oldest class about fifteen persons. In 
the middle class there would, therefore, be only about 
ten women. Among these a young man entering the 
middle class would often not find a single woman that 
he could take for his wife, for, after pairing marriage 
had become general, the few existing women had 
already found a spouse ; they had already been dis- 
posed of. There was nothing left for the young man 
but to capture a woman from a strange horde as soon 
as possible, or to try to persuade a comrade of the same 
age class to let him share in his marriage relationship 
on the understanding that his hunting bag would 
contribute towards the ' household of the three.' 
This multiple conjugal partnership is customary among 
most of the Australian tribes even to-day." To this it 
must be added that the man needs to show much less 
consideration for a captured strange woman than for 
one of his own tribe, who would run away if badly 
treated. Nor can the young man remain single, for 
he himself would then have to drag his property about, 
which would hinder him in the hunt and expose him 
to the ridicule of his companions. (In reality there 


are many unmarried men even in Australia.) The 
search for wives led ultimately, according to Cunow, 
to wife capture and exogamy. 

Infanticide, which McLennan assumes, is at present 
a rare exception among primitive people. Almost all 
explorers praise their great love for children, and even 
malformed children are not always killed. Even 
where infanticide does occur, the sex of the child is 
certainly not the factor that decides whether it is to be 
killed or not. The assumption that scarcity of women 
is brought about by girl infanticide is not correct. The 
female sex is, indeed, in the minority among un- 
civilised natives where they have been counted ; but 
the excess of men is only small. Mutual capture of 
women could not alter this disparity, for it is unlikely 
that some tribes permitted the capture of their women 
without retaliation. Besides, even among primitive 
people men are careful in risking their lives. Capture 
of women is, therefore, nowhere the rule, but is every- 
where the exception. Had it been the rule anywhere, 
the continuous fighting would have led to the exter- 
mination of the tribes in question. Frazer is right 
when he says : " If women are scarce in a group, many 
men will prefer to remain single rather than expose 
themselves to the danger of death by trying to capture 
women from their neighbours/* This is what really 
happened among many tribes of the Australian natives 
who lived on a friendly footing with each other. It 
even happens that the old men who claim the women 


expressly forbid the young men to steal women from 
other tribes, because that will lead to bloodshed. 
Further, scarcity of women is most likely overcome, as 
previously mentioned, by several men's sharing one 
wife, which arrangement, unlike the capture of women, 
avoids arousing the hostility of neighbours. Among 
peaceable tribes, therefore, a numerical preponderance 
of men results not in exogamy, but in polyandry. But 
admitting that a warlike tribe has not sufficient women 
and therefore captures them from their neighbours, it 
is still unexplainable why the men should altogether 
avoid sexual relationship with their own women, few 
as they are, and have no desire for them whatso- 
ever. This will certainly not be the result ; on the 
contrary, the few women obtainable without force will 
be all the more in demand. 

Frazer thinks that the origin of exogamy has been 
rightly explained by the American ethnologist L. H. 
Morgan, who for many years lived among the exogamic 
Indians as one of them, and thus came into direct 
contact with exogamy. Morgan assumed that sexual 
promiscuity was general at a very early period in the 
history of mankind, and that exogamy was instituted 
for the deliberate purpose of preventing cohabitation 
between blood relations, particularly between brothers 
and sisters, as was previously customary. This struck 
promiscuity at the root ; it removed its worst pecu- 
liarity, and resulted at the same time in a powerful move- 
ment towards the establishment of sexual monogamy. 


Frazer, in supporting Morgan's theory, relies exclu- 
sively on the Australian natives, who, according to 
him, though extremely primitive savages, " carry out 
the principle of exogamy with a practical astuteness, 
logical thoroughness, and precision such as no other 
race shows in its marriage system." 

Frazer finds that the effects of the Australian 
marriage class system are in complete harmony with 
the deeply rooted convictions and feelings of the 
natives as regards sexual intercourse, and concludes 
that the successive tribal subdivisions have been 
brought about deliberately in order to avoid marriage 
of blood relations. According to him, it is not going too 
far to assert that " no other human institution bears 
the stamp of deliberate purpose more clearly than the 
exogamous classes of the Australians. To assume that 
they serve only accidentally the purpose that they 
actually fulfil, and which is approved by them un- 
reservedly, would be to test our credulity nearly as 
much as if we were told that the complicated mechanism 
of a watch has originated without human design." 

Nearly all Australian tribes have the system of 
division into marriage classes. Every tribe consists of 
two main groups (called in ethnographical literature 
phratries or moieties), and each of these groups is 
again divided into two, four, or eight classes. Some- 
times the phratries and classes have special names, but 
not always. In the latter case it may be assumed that 
the names have been lost, while the division of the 


tribes into marriage groups remains. These groups 
are strictly exogamous. In no case are the members of 
the main group of the tribe (phratry) or of the same 
class allowed to marry each other. Only members of 
two given classes may marry, and their children are 
again assigned to given classes. Among some of the 
tribes there exists paternal descent, among others 
maternal descent. Which of the two modes of descent 
prevails in Australia can hardly be determined. Among 
some tribes property is inherited in the female line. 
Other rights of the female sex connected with mother 
descent are unknown. An example of the Australian 
marriage classes is given here, namely, that of the 
tribe Warrai, who live on the railway line running from 
Port Darwin to the south. Among this tribe indirect 
paternal descent is the custom; i.e., the children 
belong to the main group (phratry) of the father, 
but to other marriage classes. 

Phratry I. 


Phratry II. 




The female marriage classes are marked with an 

Each member of a certain male marriage class may 

F 2 


only marry a member of a marriage class of the other 
phratry, placed opposite in the table. Thus, for 
instance, an Adshumbitch man marries an Alpungerti 
woman, an Apungerti man an Aldshambitch woman, 
etc. The children always belong to the phratry of the 
men, but to another marriage group of theirs. Thus, 
for instance, the boys born from the union of an 
Adshumbitch man with an Apungerti woman belong 
to the Apularan class, and the girls born of this 
marriage belong to the Alpularan class. Further com- 
plications arise in consequence of the totem system, 
which exists among most of the Australian tribes. As 
the local groups of a tribe are numerically weak and 
consist of members of all marriage classes, the choice 
of mates is restricted to quite a small number of per- 
sons, being further limited to a great extent by the 
marriage of girls in childhood. But even when adults 
marry, they can rarely decide according to their own 
will, but are dependent on the circumstances of relation- 
ship. On the northern coast of Australia the marriage 
class system does not exist, but exogamy exists there, 
the members of certain local groups not being allowed to 
marry each other. The now extinct tribes in the south- 
east of the continent also had no marriage class system. 
But it still remains a mystery how it was found out 
that marriages of blood relations were harmful. One 
objection is, that some of the Australians are ignorant 
of the process of generation ; they do not even know 
that pregnancy is the result of cohabitation. It is also 


doubtful whether the Australian natives can in any 
case be considered as typical representatives of primi- 
tive man. If this were so, all mankind would still be 
in a very low state of civilisation, for the Australians 
appear incapable of progressive development. And 
further, if exogamous classes were purposely instituted 
in order to prevent cohabitation between blood rela- 
tions, how is it that other people also are excluded 
from sexual intercourse who are not blood relations ? 
Frazer's comparison with a watch is also badly chosen. 
We must take into consideration the intellectual stage 
of development of mankind at the time when exogamy 
arose, and when the watch was invented. Even if we 
do not admit that exogamy was instituted with a con- 
scious purpose, this does not by any means, as Frazer 
says, do away altogether with will and purpose from 
the history of human institutions. There is no need to 
doubt that the Australian system of exogamy became 
more and more complicated through the deliberate 
action of man. 

Frazer himself assumes that the Australians had an 
aversion to cohabitation between brothers and sisters 
even before it was definitely fixed by binding rules. 
Sexual aversion between parents and children, according 
to him, is universal among them, whether there be in 
vogue the two-, four- or eight-classes system, i.e., whether 
incest between parents and children is expressly forbidden 
or not . "In democratic societies like those of the Austra- 
lian natives, the law sanctions only thoughts that have 


already been long the mental possession of the majority of 
people . ' ' Hence the agreement of the marriage class sys- 
tem with the feelings of the people becomes~explainable. 
Since the aversion to sexual intercourse within 
certain classes was already in existence before the 
formation of marriage classes, the classificatory system 
being merely the formal expression of it, we have to 
Jind some explanation for it. For the appearance of 
this aversion marks the real beginning of exogamy, 
which cannot be explained by the complicated system 
of the Australians. It is possible that the sexual 
aversion towards blood relations is already a charac- 
teristic trait of the human race before its truly human 
development, and that it may have to be looked upon 
as an instinct. This is the opinion of F. Hellwald, 
which has also been upheld of late by A. E. Crawley. 
It is assumed that among brothers and sisters, as 
among boys and girls who have lived together from 
childhood, the pairing instinct generally remains in 
abeyance, because the conditions are wanting that are 
likely to awaken this instinct. Courting the favour of a 
person of the other sex is the process that gradually 
brings about the sexual excitement necessary for 
union. The possibility of sexual excitation between 
people who have lived together from childhood is 
decidedly lessened through habituation, if not com- 
pletely inhibited. In this respect brothers and sisters 
reach already at puberty that state towards each 
other to which people married for a long time approach 


gradually, through the constant living together and 
the exhaustion of youthful passion. If brother and 
sister sometimes show passion for each other, it is 
generally the result of the same circumstances that 
are necessary to arouse it under normal conditions, 
e.g., a long separation. As the absence of sexual 
attraction between brother and sister who have grown 
up together is a natural thing, it is strange that co- 
habitation between them should have to be specially - 
prohibited and enforced by strict measures among 
primitive peoples. The explanation, according to 
Crawley, is simple. " In many departments of primi- 
tive life we find a naive desire to, as it were, assist 
Nature, to affirm what is normal and later to confirm 
it by the categorical imperative of custom and law. 
This tendency still flourishes in our civilised com- 
munities, and, as the worship of the normal, is often a 
deadly foe to the abnormal and eccentric, and too often 
paralyses originality. Laws thus made, and with this 
object, have some justification, and their existence 
may be due, in some small measure, to the fact that 
abnormality increases pan passu with culture. But it 
is a grave error to ascribe a prevalence of incest to the 
period preceding the law against it." All the facts 
tend to show that the most primitive people procured 
their wives by friendly arrangements. From this 
standpoint it would be most practical if each tribe 
were divided into two groups, the men of each group 
marrying wives from the other group. This state of 


affairs is actually to be found among many uncivilised 
peoples that are divided into two exogamous groups 
or phratries. It has still to be discovered how this 
bipartition arose. It is unthinkable that a division 
into two groups was intentionally brought about by 
the members of the groups for the purpose of preventing 
marriages between blood relations of a certain grade. 
No tribe has ever been divided in such a manner ; the 
division must therefore be explainable in another way. 
The phratries are large families (in the broad sense of 
the word); they descend from families (in the narrower 
sense of the word), reciprocally supplying each other 
with wives. The names of the phratries are generally 
unintelligible, in contradistinction to the names of the 
totem groups, and therefore most probably older. The 
totem groups, of which a phratry consists, are to be 
considered as younger branches of the original double 
family, which have arisen through wives being taken 
from other groups whose children again received the 
name of their mothers. If it should be asked why the 
members of two phratries should constantly inter- 
marry, it should be pointed out that among communities 
in the lowest stage of civilisation women are not easily 
procurable, and the force of external circumstances 
would favour the unions just mentioned (Crawley, 
pp. 54 et seq.). 

A biological explanation of the origin of exogamy is 
given by Herbert Risley. Without basing it on the 
assumption that primitive people have a knowledge of 


the harmf ulness of incest, he gives the following exposi- 
tion : " Exogamy can be brought under the law of 
natural selection without extending it too far. We 
know that among individuals or groups of individuals 
there exists a tendency to vary in their instincts, and 
that useful variations (such as are suitable to the condi- 
tions of life) tend to be preserved and transmitted by 
inheritance. Let us assume now that in a primitive 
community the men varied in the direction towards 
choosing wives from another community, and that 
this infusion of fresh blood was advantageous. The 
original instinct would then be strengthened by 
inheritance, and sexual selection would be added in the 
course of time. For an exogamous group would have 
a greater choice of women than an endogamous one, 
. . . and la, the competition for women the best would 
fall to the strongest and most warlike men. In this 
way the strengthened exogamous groups would in time 
exterminate the endogamous neighbours, or at least 
take away their best marriageable maidens. Exogamy 
would spread partly through imitation, partly through 
the extermination of endogamous groups. The fact that 
we cannot explain how it came about that the people 
varied in the aforesaid direction is not fatal to this 
hypothesis. We do not doubt natural selection in the 
case of animals because we cannot give the exact cause 
of a favourable variation." 

E. Westermarck holds a similar theory about the 
cessation of incest. He thinks that " among the 


ancestors of man, as among other animals, there was, 
no doubt, a time when blood relationship was no bar 
to sexual intercourse. But variations here, as else- 
where, would naturally present themselves ; and those 
of our ancestors who avoided in-and-in breeding would 
survive, while the others would gradually decay and 
ultimately perish. Thus an instinct would be deve- 
loped which would be powerful enough, as a rule, to 
prevent injurious unions. Of course it would display 
itself simply as an aversion on the part of individuals 
to union with others with whom they lived ; but these, 
as a matter of fact, would be blood relations, so that 
the result would be the survival of the fittest. Whether 
man inherited the feeling from the predecessors from 
whom he sprang, or whether it was developed after 
the evolution of distinctly human qualities, we do not 
know. It must necessarily have arisen at a stage when 
family ties became comparatively strong, and children 
remained with their parents until the age of puberty 
or even longer." 

It may be surmised that the impulse towards the 
appearance of the exogamous tendency arose through 
economic progress, which led to an increase of the 
means of existence, and this in its turn produced a 
more friendly relationship between neighbouring groups 
that previously had quarrelled about food. The men 
thus came into contact with strange women, and this 
awakened a heightened sexual feeling, in other words 
the instinct which is said to have led to the avoidance 


of incest. Thus among the peoples on a very low eco- 
nomic level (e.g., the Pigmies) no laws for the preven- 
tion of incest are to be found, a fact that may be held 
to confirm this idea. Primitive people could in any 
case not understand the harmfulness of incest, while it 
is certain that strange members of the opposite sex 
could exert a stronger attraction, and thus render the 
sexual impulse permanent, which previously was 
periodical, as among the animals. 


THE slow increase in the population of primitive 
peoples, which is also to be noticed wherever the 
conditions of life have not been influenced by European 
settlers and missionaries, is chiefly due to the want of 
proper midwifery, and no less to the frequent practice 
of abortion. The opinion is often met with, particularly 
in older writings, that among primitive people child- 
birth is extremely easy. But more extended know- 
ledge has shown how dangerous childbirth is for the 
primitive mother also. Though childbirth is a natural 
physiological process, it does not always pass off 
quite without danger, no less under natural conditions 
than among highly civilised peoples. Primitive people 
know full well that the hour of childbirth is the hardest 
time in a woman's life, but not all have progressed far 
enough in the knowledge of physiology to be able to 
render efficient assistance to the woman in labour. 
Some people leave her, incredible as it may seem to 
us, without any assistance, either through indifference 
to life or through a superstitious fear of the mystery of 
life. Such cases are, however, very rare exceptions. 
Sometimes means are used for furthering the birth 
that are not only inefficacious, but actually injurious. 


Often, however, delivery is actually furthered by the 
assistance given. Internal manipulation is seldom 
resorted to, and operations are still more rare. R. W. 
Felkin's report about the operation of Caesarian section 
among the negroes in Uganda seems to be unique. 
Ploss and Bartels have compiled a great deal of informa- 
tion about childbirth among primitive people. We 
add here some examples from the later literature. 

Feticide occurs most likely among all primitive 
peoples to a larger or lesser degree, and injures them 
accordingly. The reasons are the same as with us : 
inability to support a large number of children or 
aversion to the worries of child-rearing. Unmarried 
girls procure abortion usually because the child might 
be a hindrance to a future marriage, particularly when 
the father of the expected child jilts the mother. Still 
pre-marital births are not always considered a disgrace 
among primitive people. The abortives resorted to 
are generally inefficacious, though some native peoples 
have discovered really effective remedies. Kulz (p. 18) 
says quite rightly, "It is to be assumed that woman 
everywhere, even in a low state of civilisation, has her 
attention directed to the occurrence of involuntary 
premature birth by often recurring effective causes. 
Such external causes are not very remote from the 
mechanically and medically produced abortions. We 
only need to think of the fact that among all primitive 
peoples the chief work in the fields falls to the women, 
and that it is just heavy labour that has the tendency 


to interrupt pregnancy. It required only some little 
thought to discover this frequently observed coinci- 
dence and to learn from the involuntary interruption 
of pregnancy how to produce it voluntarily. ... In 
the same way the production of abortions by poisons 
can easily be derived from a rational application of 
chance remedies producing corresponding involuntary 
effects. . . . Just as primitive man discovered many 
medicinal plants by repeatedly partaking of them, so 
he also found out the specific use of some of these for 
feticide. This could happen the more readily as 
among abortive remedies in use there were many that 
in a way served him as food and condiment, such as 
nutmeg, or the papaia kernels, or others that he used 
at the same time for poisoning fish, or others, again, 
like the aperient Cajanus indicus, which in moderate 
doses acts medicinally, in large doses, however, as an 

The use of poisons and mechanical feticide not only 
brings about limitation of offspring, but often results 
in the death of the mother. Where they are very 
prevalent they contribute greatly to the scarcity of 
women, with all its attendant biological disadvantages. 
The contact of primitive people with Europeans 
generally increases the frequency of abortions. This is 
due partly to the desire for hiding the results of sexual 
intercourse with strangers, partly to the incitement to 
loose living which the acquaintance with European 
culture sometimes brings about. 


How defective the state of midwifery is among 
primitive people is shown by many accounts in newer 
works of ethnology. Thus the missionary Endle 
writes (p. 41) : " The native tribes of Assam and Burma 
have no special mid wives. Every old woman may 
perform the duties of a midwife, and she does it with- 
out payment. There is no information about the 
treatment of the woman during parturition. The 
navel cord is generally cut off with a bamboo knife. 
The Katshari do not perform this with one cut, but 
make five cuts in the case of a boy and seven for a girl. 
The mother is considered unclean for several weeks 
after her confinement. This is also the case among 
many races of Southern and Eastern Asia, and in other 
parts of the world. ' Isolation even before the confine- 
ment sometimes occurs, and is due to the belief that 
women in this state are unclean, j 

Among the savage tribes of Formosa the birth of a 
child passes off so lightly that the lying-in woman is 
able to go on with her work on the following day. 
She_only avoids heavy labour in the field for a month. 
After the birth certain superstitious ceremonies, 
according to old customs, are performed, such as 
driving away the devil, etc. Among many tribes 
twins are held to be a misfortune, and the second 
child is therefore killed. This also occurs frequently 
in other places (W. Miiller, p. 230). 

Among the Igorots of Bontoc (Philippines) the 
woman works in the field almost to the hour of her 


confinement. There are no festivities or ceremonies 
connected with the birth. The father of the child, 
if he is the husband of the woman, is present, as is also 
the woman's mother, but no one else. The parturient 
woman bends her body strongly forward, holding 
firmly on to the beam of the house, or she takes up an 
animal- like position, so that hands and feet are on the 
ground. Medicines and baths are not resorted to for 
hastening the labour pains, but the people present 
massage the abdomen of the labouring woman. About 
ten days after the birth her body is washed with warm 
water. There is no special diet, but the mother refrains 
from field work for two or three months. If twins are 
born, it is believed to be due to an evil spirit who has 
had connection with the woman whilst she was asleep. 
No blame is attached to the mother, but the quieter of 
the children (and when both children are quiet, the 
longer one) is buried alive near the house immediately 
after birth. Abortion is practised by married women 
as well as by single girls, if for some reason the child 
is not wanted. The mother warns her unmarried 
daughter against abortion, telling her that a girl who 
produces abortion will not get a faithful husband, but 
will become the common partner of several men. The 
foetus is driven off in the second month of pregnancy 
by hot baths and massage. Abortion is not considered 
a disgrace (Jenks). 

Among the Kayan of Borneo there are everywhere 
older women who serve as midwives. One of them is 


called in good time to the pregnant woman. She 
examines her abdomen from time to time, and pretends 
to be able to give the child the right position. She 
hangs some magical remedies about the living room, 
and applies various remedies externally. The pregnant 
woman follows her usual occupation until the labour 
pains commence. Then the midwife and other old 
relatives or friends assist her. The husband may also 
remain in the room, but he is prevented by a screen 
from seeing the parturient woman, who gets hold 
tightly of a cloth hung over or in front of her. The 
pains are generally of short duration, rarely lasting 
more than two or three hours. In order to prevent 
the rising of the child, the women bind a cloth tightly 
round the abdomen of the parturient woman, and two 
of them press firmly on the womb on either side. 
After the delivery of the child the navel cord is cut 
with a bamboo knife. If the after-birth does not 
follow soon, the women become anxious ; two of them 
lift up the patient, and if that has no result, the navel 
cord is fastened to an axe in order to prevent it from 
re-entering the body, and presumably also to hasten 
the delivery of the after-birth. Internal manipula- 
tions are not resorted to. The after-birth is buried. 
If the child is born with a caul, the caul is dried, pounded 
into powder, and used in later years as medicine for the 
child. If the labour pains are exceptionally severe or 
long-lasting, or if an accident happens, the news 
travels rapidly. Everybody is overcome by fear, as 

S.L. G 


the death of a parturient woman is particularly dreaded. 
The men and the boys take flight. If death actually 
ensues, most of the men remain in hiding for some 
time, and the corpse is quickly buried by old men and 
women who are least afraid of death. 

The pregnant women of the Punan of Borneo con- 
tinue with their usual work until the arrival of labour 
pains, and they resume it immediately after the con- 
finement. To assist delivery the body is tightly bound 
above the womb. Nothing further is known about 
special help (Hose and McDougall, II., pp. 154, 185). 

The Papua women are said to give birth easily, as a 
rule, but difficult deliveries and fatal cases do occur 
exceptionally. The custom exists in various places 
for the mother to throw the after-birth into the river 
or the sea after confinement (Williamson, p. 178 ; 
Seligmann, p. 85). Of the Mafulu Williamson says 
that when the after-birth is thrown into the river the 
mother gives the new-born child some water to drink. 
If the child partakes of it, it is considered a good omen ; 
otherwise the child is believed not to be viable and is 
drowned. Williamson thinks that the purpose of this 
custom is to enable the mother to choose whether she 
wishes to keep the child alive or not. It also may 
happen that a childless woman accompanies the 
mother to the river and there adopts the child. Wilful 
abortion also occurs very often, not only in single 
girls, but also in married women, who thus keep 
their families small. 


Among the Barriai in New Pomerania the woman is 
confined whilst sitting on a log of wood, being massaged 
from above downwards by an older woman. The 
husband is not allowed to be present. The birth 
generally passes off quite easily. The navel cord is cut 
off with an obsidian knife. The parents may not eat 
pork and certain kinds of fish until the child has begun 
to walk. Disregard of this prohibition is believed 
to bring about the death of the child. The parents 
abstain also during this time from sexual intercourse. 
Abortives do not seem to be known, though mis- 
carriages sometimes occur through the rough treat- 
ment of pregnant women by men (Friederici, p. 89) . In 
Polynesia abortion is generally produced by women 
professionally. This is brought about by the use of 
certain foods or drinks, by the application of mechanical 
means, etc. How widespread feticide is in Melanesia 
can be seen from a statement of Parkinson, according * 
to whom in New Mecklenburg quite young girls make ' 
no secret of having produced abortion three or four 
times. Among the Jabim (Finschhafen) the mothers 
present their daughters with abortives when they get 
married (Buschan, I., p. 62). 

On the eastern islands of the Torres Straits 
(Australia) the women chew as a prevention of preg- 
nancy the leaves of Callicarpa, or of a Eugenia 
species called sobe, also the leaves of a large shrub 
called bok ; but these remedies are inefficacious. 
Medicines and mechanical methods are used for abor- 

G 2 


tion. Among the former are the leaves of the con- 
volvulus, of Clerodendron, Pouzolzia microphylla, Maca- 
ranga tanarius, Terminala catappa, Eugenia, Hibiscus 
tiliaceus, and Callicarpa. If these do not help, the 
abdomen is beaten with large stones, with a rope or 
twigs or a wand, or a heavy load is put on it. Some- 
times the woman leans with her back against a tree, 
and two men grasp a wand and press it against her 
abdomen, so as to bring about the delivery of the 
foetus. This often results in the death of the mother. 
On the Easter Island, in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, 
there were several men with a knowledge of midwifery, 
but recently only one of them has survived. Nowadays 
older women act as midwives. Walter Knoche writes 
(1912, pp. 659 et seq.) : "' The birth takes place either 
in the open or in the house, the woman standing with 
legs spread out, or recently in a sitting position. The 
accoucheur stands behind the parturient woman, 
embracing her abdomen. The thumbs are spread out, 
and touch each other in a horizontal position somewhat 
above the navel, while the remainder of the hand is 
turned diagonally downwards. In this way massage 
is applied by a slow, rhythmical, strong and kneading 
movement vertically from above downwards. When 
the birth is sufficiently advanced, the child is drawn 
out ; the assistant bites off the navel cord (among some 
Brazilian Indian tribes the husband does this, but on 
the Easter Island he takes no part in the delivery) ; 
then a knot is made a few centimetres from the navel. 


The after-birth is not specially dealt with ; it is buried. 
The navel cord, however, is placed in a calabash, which 
is buried or put under a rock. After the event the 
lying-in woman lies down upon a mat in the house, and 
warm, flat, fairly heavy stones are applied to the 
abdomen. Perhaps this is the reason why even women 
who have had difficult confinements still preserve a 
good figure. The infant remains at the mother's breast 
for about a year." Knoche also heard that the women 
sometimes pass a piece of an alga into the vulva right 
up to the womb before intercourse with a stranger, 
believing this method to be a very safe one. It could, 
unfortunately, not be ascertained whether this pre- 
caution was formerly, as seems likely, resorted to 
generally in order to limit the number of children, or 
whether its use was only intended to keep the tribe 
untainted by foreign blood. The latter assumption is 
contradicted by the fact that " the Easter Island women 
have children from strangers living for some time on 
the Easter Island, and that nowadays the use of contra- 
ceptives in the case of strangers who come and go 
quickly may simply be due to the circumstance that at 
the birth of a child there would be no man to support 
it. It is most probable that the use of preventives had 
its origin in Malthusian principles. The little island, 
whose population has been variously estimated by 
travellers of the eighteenth and the first half of the 
nineteenth century at a few thousand, must herewith 
have reached its maximum number of inhabitants, 


which could of necessity not be exceeded. Deaths 
and births had therefore to balance. This employ- 
ment of contraceptives in Polynesia is unique, and it 
may be truly reckoned as a sign of a higher civilisation, 
together with other facts, such as the existence of a 
script, of stone houses and of large stone idols, the 
Moai, which have made this lonely little island so 
famous. On the other Oceanic Islands, as, for instance, 
on the westward-situated Tahiti, infanticide, committed 
by the mother as many as ten times in succession, 
served to limit the number of children, either on account 
of economy or for reasons of convenience. Contracep- 
tives are otherwise unknown in Oceania." 

Of the Jao in East Africa Karl Weule relates 
(p. 61) : " During the delivery the parturient woman 
lies upon her back on a mat on the floor of the hut. 
The older children and the husband are not allowed to 
be present, but a number of older women are there, 
amongst whom there is always a near relative of the 
husband, who takes special note of any evidence of 
extra-marital intercourse given by the parturient 
woman. It is the chief business of the midwives to 
submit the woman to a very strict questionnaire: 
' How many men have you had, three, or four, or even 
more ? Your child will not come until you have men- 
tioned the right father. Yes, you will die, if you do 
not tell us how many men you have had.' Such 
speeches are hurled at the woman from all sides. No 
mechanical help is given her. She rolls about in pain, 


under great bodily and mental torture, and shrieks 
and cries until all is over. The navel cord is cut off 
by an old woman. Ancient instruments, such as are 
used by the East African Bantu tribes, are unknown 
among the Jao. The cutting of the navel cord seems 
to be performed clumsily, for umbilical rupture, 
which has become an ideal of beauty in many places 
in Eastern Africa, is here frequent. The after-birth and 
the navel cord are buried, if possible without a witness. 
They are considered effective magical remedies. The 
new-born child is washed and then wrapped in a cloth 
or a piece of bark fabric. A real lying-in is not kept up ; 
the mother gets up again the same or the following 
day. Sex intercourse can only be resumed again with 
the permission of the village elder. It is only given 
when the child can sit up, or when it is six or seven 
months old. Children are welcome ; twins are no less 
joyfully received. But infanticide is said to occur. 
If, however, children are not wanted, married women 
as well as girls resort to abortion. Plant juices are 
generally used for this purpose, though sometimes 
mechanical means are resorted to. Abortion is in no 
way considered reprehensible. In order to prevent 
conception, the woman puts herself into communication 
with a fundi, who understands something of making 
knots. The fundi goes into the wood, seeks out two 
different barks, and twists them together into a cord. 
Into the cord he rubs the yolk of an egg, for to the 
Jao the curse of infertility abides in the egg. He knots 


into the cord three knots, saying at the same time, 
' You tree are called thus and thus, and you thus ; but 
you egg, you become a living animal. But now I do 
not want anything living.' He then twists the final 
knot. This cord is worn by the woman round her 
body. Boots are also placed under her head at night to 
prevent conception. If the woman wishes to become 
pregnant again, she needs only to untie the knots in 
the cord, to put it into water, and then drink the water. 
Afterwards the cord is thrown away." 

Among the Makua, on the Makonda plateau in East 
Africa, at the first sign of labour pains the woman lies 
down upon her back on a mat in the house. A cloth is 
put under her back by the helping women, which is 
drawn tightly and pulled up when the pains become 
stronger. After the birth the navel cord is cut, not 
with a knife, but with a splinter from a millet stalk. 
Here, as in other phases in the life of man, an ancient 
implement has survived for sacred purposes long after 
the period of its common use. The navel cord is not 
tied, but dries off. The removed part is buried. The 
lying-in woman remains at home three or four days. 

Among the Masai an old woman is always called 
in as midwife. If the birth goes on normally, no 
superstitious or useless operations are undertaken 
(Merker, pp. 189 et seq.). Should an increase of labour 
pains appear necessary, the parturient woman is led 
round by the women for a few steps, and if this does 
not produce the desired result light massage is applied. 


Only when these remedies prove to be inefficacious an 
extreme step is taken : the labouring woman is slowly 
lifted up by her feet by several women until her body 
hangs perpendicularly and her head touches the 
ground, whereupon the midwife massages the body in 
the direction of the navel. Medicaments are seldom 
used for hastening the delivery. Internal manual or 
operative manipulations do not seem to be practised 
anywhere. In the case of a narrow pelvis preventing 
birth, no help is available ; mother and child perish. 
The confinement takes place on all fours or in a sitting 
position ; in the latter case the legs and the back are 
pressed against the posts of the hut. For the produc- 
tion of abortion a decoction of dried goat dung or of 
cor dia quarensis or some other remedy is used. 

Of the Hottentots it has sometimes been reported 
that the women have easy births. According to 
Schulze's inquiries (p. 218), this is not always the case. 
The birth takes place in the side position. During 
very difficult births the women attempt to widen the 
vulva of the parturient woman. If that does not help, 
the perineum is deliberately torn up to the anus. No 
attempt is made to cure the perineal tear, for the belief 
exists that it would hinder the passage of the next 
child. All manipulations are carried out beneath the 
skin rug under~ which the woman lies. The navel cord 
is cut without delay ; no ^one troubles about the 
delivery of the after-birth. The woman resumes her 
occupation generally on the seventh or eighth day. 


Feticide is not unusual among the Hottentots. A hot 
decoction of badger urine, drunk, if necessary, for several 
days in succession, is considered an effective abortive 
remedy. The procedure itself is characteristically 
called " drinking and falling " (Schulze, p. 320). 

Among the Uti-Krag Indians of the Rio Doce 
(Espirito Santo, Brazil) the woman goes through the 
labour alone. She disappears in the bush, and herself 
bites off the navel cord ; after the delivery she goes 
to the nearest stream to wash herself and the child, 
and rejoins her tribe immediately (Walter Knoche, 

1913, P- 397). 

Among the Indians of the Aiary, when a woman is 
taken with labour pains all the men leave their house, 
which is common to several families. The woman lies 
in her hammock in her part of the house, which is 
securely closed by a lattice railing. All the women 
remain with her and help at the birth. The navel cord 
and after-birth are buried immediately on the spot. 
After the birth the mother and the child remain strictly 
secluded for five days. The husband remains in the 
house during the lying-in period, but there is no real 
couvade (the male lying-in custom). 

The women of the Kobeua Indians give birth in the 
common family house, or in an outlying hut, or even 
in the wood, with the assistance of all married women, 
who first paint their faces red for the festive occasion. 
The navel cord is cut off by the husband's mother 
with a blade of scleria grass, and is immediately buried, 


together with the after- birth. Of twins the second 
born is killed, or the female if they are of different 
sexes. After the birth, the witch doctor performs 
exorcism. The parents keep up a five days' lying-in, 
and eight days after the birth a drinking feast is held 
(Koch-Grunberg, L, p. 182 ; II., p. 146). 

Among the Bakairi of Brazil, according to Karl von 
den Steinen (p. 334), abortion is said to occur frequently. 
The women are afraid of the confinement. They 
prepare for it by drinking tea, and mechanical measures 
are also resorted to. The women are delivered on the 
floor in a kneeling position, holding firmly to a post. 
The hammocks must not be soiled. Women who have 
had experience declared with emphasis, and showed 
by pantomime, that the pains were great. But they 
soon get up and go to work, the husband going through 
the famous couvade (the man's lying-in), keeping strict 
diet, not touching his weapons and passing the greatest 
part of his time in his hammock. He only leaves the 
house to satisfy his physical needs, and lives completely 
on a thin pogu, manioc cake crumbled into water. 
There exists the belief that anything else might injure 
the child, as if the child itself ate meat, fish or fruit. 
The couvade only ends when the remainder of the 
navel cord falls off. 

Among the Bororo, according to the same author 
(p. 503), the woman is delivered in the wood. The 
father cuts the navel cord with a bamboo splinter, and 
ties it with a thread. For two days the parents do not 


eat anything, and on the third day they may only 
partake of some warm water. If the man were to eat 
he and the child would become ill. The after-birth is 
buried in the wood. The woman is not allowed to 
bathe until the reappearance of menstruation ; but 
then, as generally after menstruation, she does it fre- 
quently. Abortion by the help of internal means is 
said to be frequent, especially among the Ranchao 
women. If the mother wishes to stop suckling, they 
squeeze the breasts out, and " dry the milk over the 
fire, whereupon it keeps away." Medicine for sick chil- 
dren, which the chemist had prepared, was swallowed by 
the parents, as among the Bakairi. 

Among the Paressi the woman is confined in a 
kneeling position, being held by her mother under her 
breast. The couvade is also customary among them. 



THE mentality of the different branches of mankind 
varies a great deal. A good example of this is the fact 
that there are peoples who do not know the connection 
between cohabitation and conception. There are 
other tribes, again, who, as we have reason to assume, 
did not possess this knowledge previously. In fact, 
Ferdinand von Reitzenstein thinks that there was a 
time when the connection between cohabitation and 
pregnancy was unknown to all mankind, and he adduces 
examples which show that traces of such a state are 
to be found in the legends and customs of many peoples* 
And, says von Reitzenstein, we need hardly be surprised 
at this ignorance of the generative process when we 
consider that " it is only since the days of Swammerdam, 
who died in 1685, that we know that both egg and 
spermatozoon have to come together for fertilisation, 
and only since Du Barry (1850) that we know that the 
spermatozoon must penetrate the egg." The belief in 
supernatural conception has been preserved, not only 
in the Christian Churches, but also in the myths of the 
gods in most religions. Originally man could not 
conclude from the mere appearance of a pregnant 
woman that the cohabitation which had occurred 


months ago was the cause of her condition. Primitive 
people do not bring into causal connection phenomena 
separated by wide intervals. 

Von Reitzenstein writes that primitive people, who 
generally marry their girls before the advent of puberty, 
must have been turned aside from seeing the connection 
between cohabitation and pregnancy because these girls 
had no children at first in spite of having sexual inter- 
course. But to this it may be objected that even the 
lowest races must have noticed that pregnancy only 
* .occurs after the advent of the first menstruation. The 
appearance and abeyance of menstruation must have 
formed a step towards the understanding of the genera- 
tive process. It is otherwise with von Reitzenstein 's 
objection that by far the largest number of cohabita- 
tions do not lead to pregnancy. Even among com- 
paratively enlightened races this observation led to the 
assumption that some additional supernatural process is 
necessary for fertilisation. Among the Australians, the 
least developed race of man, the necessity of cohabita- 
tion for pregnancy is totally unknown. Baldwin 
Spencer and Frank J. Gillen have shown (1899, 
pp. 123 et seq. ; 1904, pp. 145, 606) that among the 
natives of Northern and Central Australia there exists 
the general belief that the children penetrate into the 
woman as minute spirits. These spirits are said to 
come from persons that have lived once before and 
are reborn in this manner. The belief in rebirth, 
together with the ignorance of the generative process, 


is very widespread in Australia, e.g., among many 
tribes in Queensland, in Southern Australia, in the 
Northern Territory and in Western Australia. It is now 
too late to get reliable information in this matter from 
those parts of Australia where the natives are in regular 
contact with whites. Spencer takes it as certain that 
the belief in asexual propagation was once general in 

Among all those tribes by whom this belief has been 
preserved up to the present the traditions concerning 
the tribal ancestors are quite definite. Among the 
Arunta, for instance, who live in the district of the 
transcontinental telegraph line between Charlotte 
Waters and the McDonnel mountains, and among 
whom ignorance of the process of generation was first 
discovered, there exists the tradition that in bygone 
times, called altcheringa, the male and female 
ancestors of the tribe carried spirit children about 
with them, which they put down in certain places. 
These spirit children, like the spirits of the tribal 
ancestors, themselves enter into the women and are 
borne by them. The Arunta believe that at the death 
of a person his spirit returns to a special tree or rock, 
out of which it came, and which is called nandcha. 
It remains there until it thinks fit once more to enter 
into a woman, and thus go amongst the living. All 
these spirits are called iruntarinia. But before the 
first rebirth of an iruntarinia there arose another 
spirit from the nandcha, which is the double of the 


iruntarinia, and is called ammburinga. This arum- 
buringa never becomes embodied, but remains always 
a spirit, which accompanies its human representative 
whenever inclined, and, as a rule, remains invisible. 
Only specially gifted people, particularly witch doctors, 
can see ammburinga; they can even speak with them. 
Among other Australian tribes which believe in rebirth, 
no belief in spirits like the armnburinga has been traced 
(compare B. Ankermann, "Totenkult und Seelen- 
glauben bei Afrikanischen Volkern," Zeitschrift fur 
Ethnologic, Jahrgang 50, pp. 89 et seq.). 

There is, however, general agreement in the belief 
that the ancestral parents brought into the world the 
spirit children, who are continually reborn. Among 
many tribes, as the Dieri and the Warramunga, it is 
believed that the sex changes at every rebirth, so that 
the ancestral spirit once takes the form of a male and 
the next time that of a female. The conditions are such 
among the Australians that their ignorance of the 
connection between sexual intercourse and propaga- 
tion is not at all surprising. Spencer points out that 
among the Australians there are no " virgins," for as 
soon as a girl is sexually ripe she is given to a particular 
man, with whom she has sexual intercourse right through 
life. In this respect there is no difference among the 
native women ; yet the people see that some women 
have children and others none, and also that the 
women with children have them at unequal intervals 
that have no connection with sexual intercourse. 


Besides, the women know that they are pregnant only 
when they feel the quickening, and that is often at a 
time when they have had nothing to do with a man. 
Therefore they attempt to explain the origin of chil- 
dren in some other manner, which is in accordance with 
the very primitive mode of thought of these unpro- 
gressive people. In this connection it may be men- 
tioned that the Australian mothers attribute the birth 
of half-castes to their having eaten too much of the 
white man's flour. Therefore old Australians accept 
without question as their own the half-caste children 
of their wives, and treat them as such. Though the 
natives of Northern Queensland know that the animals 
propagate sexually, they dispute this as regards human 
beings, because man, in contradistinction to the 
animals, has a living spirit, a soul, which could not 
be begotten by a material process. A. Lang thinks 
that with regard to the genesis of mankind the psycho- "* 
logy of these primitive people has obscured their know- 
ledge of physiology. According to him, the idea that 
there is no connection between cohabitation and genera- 
tion cannot be considered as primary in man. 

A proof of this ignorance of the fertilisation process 
among the Australians is the splitting of the penis 
practised by them. Otherwise these tribes, which 
have a scarcity of women and children, and which 
desire progeny, would not perform an operation by 
which the semen fails to fulfil its function in the 
majority of cases of cohabitation. It is becoming 

S.L. H 


more and more certain that this splitting of the 
penis serves exclusively the purpose of lust, and is 
least of all intended as a deliberate birth preventative 
(von Reitzenstein) . 

Evidences of the ignorance of generation are also to 
be found elsewhere in cases where the above-mentioned 
objection of Lang does not apply. In Melanesia the 
connection between cohabitation and conception seems 
to have been unknown until lately. R. Thurnwald 
says that among the tribes on the Bismarck and 
Solomon Islands visited by him this connection is well 
known nowadays, but the causal relationship is not 
so clearly conceived as by our psychologically trained 
physicians. As a natural phenomenon conception 
sometimes occurs and sometimes not. Intentional 
and real forgetting, inexact calculation of time, and 
the strangeness of men towards women, who are held 

- as inferiors, all make it appear logically probable that 

conception can take place without cohabitation. To 
this must be added the weirdness of the whole process, 
which is therefore given a mysterious interpretation, 
and also that mode of thought which connects the 
young product with the place where it is found, with 
the fruits of a plant, and with the young ones of a bird, 
etc. Codrington reports the same conditions among 
the Banks Islanders. 

Many tribes of Central Borneo, being mentally and 
economically far above the Australian natives, assume 
that pregnancy only lasts four or five months, namely, 


as long as it is recognised externally in the woman, and 
that the child enters the body of the woman shortly 
before the sign of pregnancy. These tribes of Borneo 
also do not know that the testicles are necessary for 
propagation (Nieuwenhuis, p. 144). 

In Africa it has been established, at least of the 
Baganda, that they believe in the possibility of concep- 
tion without cohabitation. Conceptional totemism, 
the assumption of impregnation by the animals 
venerated as totems, which exists among the Bakalai 
in the Congo region, points to a similar belief. Concep- 
tional totemism also exists among the Indian tribes of 
North-western America (Frazer, Vol. II., pp. 506, 507, 
and 611, 612). 

Among the ancient Mexicans there existed, according 
to von Reitzenstein, the belief that the children come 
from a supernal habitation, the flower land, to enter into 
the mother. Various objects were thought to carry the 
fcetal germs, especially shuttlecocks and green jewels. 
For this reason these were placed on the mat for the 
Mexican bridal pair after the marriage ceremony. 
The rattle club is perhaps also considered as the bearer 
of fertility. In India various trees play a role in 
fertilisation ideas. 

Noteworthy is the belief found in various places that 
only the nourishment of the child is supplied by the 
mother before birth, while the germ of the new being 
comes from the father. This is the opinion of certain 
tribes of South-east Australia described by Howitt 

H 2 


and the same belief exists among South American 
tribes who have the well-known couvade. Karl von 
den Steinen writes regarding this : " One might be 
tempted to explain this curious custom, which is very 
advantageous to the women, by the hunting life. 
But even if the custom suits the women, it is not 
evident why the men should have submitted to it. 
The father cuts oft the navel cord of the new-born 
child, goes to bed, looks after the child, and fasts 
strictly until the rest of the navel cord falls off (or even 
longer). One might consider him as the professional 
doctor who also fasts like the student medicine-man, 
as otherwise his cure would be endangered and the 
child harmed. But not only the Xingu, but many 
other tribes, say that the father must not eat fish, meat, 
or fruit, as it would be the same as if the child itself 
ate them ; and there is no reason to doubt that this is 
the real belief of the natives. The medicine-man of 
the village is always at disposal, and he is called in in 
all cases when the mother or child falls ill. The father 
is the patient in so far as he feels himself one with the 
child. Nor is it difficult to understand how this comes 
about. The native cannot very well know anything 
about the egg cell and the Graafian follicle, and he 
cannot know that the mother harbours elements 
corresponding to the bird's egg. For the native the 
man is the bearer of the egg, which, to put it clearly 
and concisely, he lays into the mother, and which she 
hatches during pregnancy." This idea of the couvade 


is confirmed by linguistic peculiarities : there are the same 
or similar words for "father," "testicle," "egg," and 
1 ' child. " The child is considered part of the father, and 
therefore, as long as the child is at its weakest, the 
father must keep diet, and must avoid anything that 
the other could not digest. The child is considered 
the reproduction of the father, and " for the sake of 
the helpless, unintelligent creature, representing a 
miniature copy of himself, he must behave as if he 
were a child to whom no harm must come. Should 
the child happen to die in the first days, how could the 
father, with such views as he has, doubt that he is to 
blame, seeing that he has eaten indigestible things, 
particularly as all illnesses are due to the fault of 
others ? What we call pars pro toto prevails in all 
folk belief in connection with witch or healing magic," 
though it cannot be assumed " that the magic worker 
has a clear conception of the ' part ' with which he 
works. The couvade proceeds according to the same 
logic, only that in this case the whole stands for the 
' part.' It comes to the same whether the enemy's 
hair is poisoned, and he is thus brought into a decline, 
or whether food is eaten which is harmful to the child 
detached from one's own body, because it could not 
digest it, at least not during the time when the detach- 
ment takes place." 

Besides South America and Australia, the couvade 
is also frequent in Asia and Africa. Previously it 
existed also in South-western Europe. Hugo Kunike 


who gives a survey of the prevalence and literature of 
the couvade, thinks that this custom arose from 
prohibitions which the man was subject to in matri- 
archal families. The prohibitions condemned the man 
to inactivity for some time after the birth, so that he 
took to his hammock. There resulted an external 
condition which led to an analogy with the lying-in 
period. There can, according to Kunike, be no ques- 
tion of an imitation of the woman's lying-in, for with 
the South American Indians and other primitive 
peoples among whom the couvade is found no lying-in 
of the women occurs. 



MUTILATIONS of the sex organs are performed by 
many primitive peoples for religious reasons. They ' 
occur much more rarely for the purpose of sex stimula- 
tion, as, e.g., the artificial lengthening of the small 
labia among the Hottentots and the negro women 
and the slitting of the penis among the Australians. 
The most frequent mutilation is the abscission of the , 
foreskin of the penis. Circumcision of boys is wide- 
spread in Asia, Africa, and Australia. Among the 
Mohammedan tribes of Asia and the negroes of 
Northern and Middle Africa it is mostly performed 
with a razor. In Indonesia a sharp bamboo splinter 
serves as the instrument for operation ; in other places 
sharp stone splinters are used. In addition to the 
familiar circular abscission of the foreskin, numerous 
primitive peoples practise incision of the foreskin, 
which is split downwards in its full length. Bleeding 
is stopped generally by very simple means, either by 
some kind of tampon or by styptic powders. In 
girls, as, for instance, on some of the Indonesian 
Islands, the operation often merely consists in the 
abscission of a small piece of the preputium clitoridis. 
Among the East African tribes, however, parts of the 


mons veneris and of the large labia are removed, 
generally with a dirty razor. After the removal of the 
labia the two wounds are made to coalesce by letting 
the girl lie in a suitable position, or sometimes by a 
suture, which serves the purpose of closing up the 
vagina. A little tube is inserted to allow for micturi- 
tion. The united parts are again partly severed for 
marriage, and completely in case of confinement. 
After the recovery from confinement partial occlusion 
is again resorted to (Bartels, p. 271). 

Among the natives of Southern Asia living under 
the influence of Islam circumcision of boys is practised 
universally, but it is also customary among many 
peoples that are quite free from Islamitic influence. 

Circumcision of girls is practised by various Islamitic 
peoples of Western Asia and India. The operation is 
performed by old women. In Baroda and Bombay 
the clitoris is cut away, ostensibly in order to lessen 
the sensuality of the girls. In the province of Sindo 
the circumcision of girls is fairly prevalent, especially 
among the Pathan and Baluchi tribes. It is performed 
shortly before marriage by the barber's wife or a female 
servant, who uses a razor, and it is said to make the 
confinement easier. Among many tribes in the North- 
western border province the girls are also circumcised 
at the age of marriage, and here, besides the clitoris, the 
small labia are also sometimes cut away. In Balu- 
chistan among some peoples the tip of the clitoris is 
pinched off ; while among others the labia are slashed, 


so that scars are formed. The operation is performed 
partly in childhood, partly on the bridal night ; in the 
latter case it assures the requisite flow of blood at the 
first coition. Among some tribes, in place of circum- 
cision or in addition to it, the hymen is torn on the 
bridal night (should it still exist), and the vaginal 
entrance is wounded, so that bleeding is sure to take 
place at cohabitation. In Sind the castes which 
prostitute their women are said to practise partial 
infibulation for contracting the vagina. It is reported 
from the Punjab that formerly men leaving their home 
for a time used to close up the sex passage of the wives 
they left behind. 

On the Philippine Islands circumcision is frequently 
practised by the non-Christian natives, but not every- 
where. The Igorots of Luzon incise the foreskin of 
boys from four to seven years old at the upper side of 
the glans with a bamboo knife or the edge of a battle 
axe. They say this is necessary in order to prevent 
the skin from growing longer and longer. No other 
reason is now known to them for this operation. 
Circumcision is practised by the Mohammedans of 
the Southern Philippine Islands. 

Incision of the foreskin is customary on the Indo- 
nesian Islands, thus, e.g., on Buru, Ceram, the Watu- 
Bela Islands, in the Minahassa, partly also in the 
remaining North and Central Celebes, also on Ambon 
and Halmaheira. Circumcision is customary on the 
Aru and Kei Islands, on the Ceram Laut and Goram 


group, in certain parts of Central Celebes, Ambon, etc. 
It is doubtful whether circumcision here is due to the 
influence of Islam. 

Incision is practised on various islands in the Western 
Pacific Ocean, according to Friederici (p. 45), for 
instance, on New Guinea, on the south-east coast, 
among the Jabim and on the Astrolabe Bay. In wide 
districts of New Guinea, however, the inhabitants are 
not circumcised. On the island Umboi, between New 
Guinea and New Pomerania, incision is customary, 
also in various places on the north coast of New 
Pomerania, on the Witu Islands, some islands of the 
Admiralty group, etc. If incision is performed at a 
very early age, the result is similar to that of circum- 
cision. Frequently, however, only completely mature 
young men are circumcised ; in such cases the cut 
foreskin hangs down as an ugly brown flap. It is 
questionable whether this intensifies the women's 
excitement. As many people as possible are circum- 
cised, in order to have the opportunity for a great 
festival. This is the result of the liking for numbers 
shown by primitive people, which is to be met with 
everywhere. For the operation, the person is laid on his 
back and held down by relatives. The boys scream 
and wince at the moment of cutting; but the adults 
are ashamed before the women, and take an areca 
nut, into which they bite. Among the East Barriari 
on the north coast of New Pomerania, the operator 
a wise man, but not the priest pushes an oblong piece 


of wood under the preputium of the patient, and cuts 
it from the top downward with an obsidian splinter. 
The custom of incision is widespread in the New 
Hebrides, New Caledonia (with the exception of the 
Loyalty Islands), and also in Fiji. 

While with the Empress Augusta River expedi- 
tion in New Guinea, A. Roesike found the fore- 
skin cut among a number of men. It was not 
a circumcision, nor an incision of the foreskin, but a 
deep cut into the glans about i to ij centimetres 
long, sometimes a single one, sometimes a double 
one crosswise. 

Among some tribes of Indonesia a mutilation is 
customary, which is most likely intended to intensify 
the lust of the women. It consists in a perforation of 
the glans or the body of the male organ, into which a 
little stick is inserted. These little sticks are called 
palang, ampallang, utang or kampion, and are replaced 
on journeys or at work by feather quills. Among some 
tribes several little sticks are stuck through the penis. 
Nieuwenhuis describes this operation as follows : "At 
first the glans is made bloodless by pressing it between 
the two arms of a bent strip of bamboo. At each of 
these arms there are openings at the required position 
opposite each other, through which a sharp pointed 
copper pin is pressed after the glans has become less 
sensitive. Formerly a pointed bamboo chip was used 
for this purpose. The bamboo clamp is removed, and 
the pin, fastened by a cord, is kept in the opening until 


the canal has healed up. Later on the copper pin 
(utang) is replaced by another one, generally of tin, 
which is worn constantly. Only during hard work or 
at exhausting enterprises is the metal pin replaced by 
a wooden one." Exceptionally brave men have the 
privilege, together with the chief, of boring a second 
canal, crossing the first, into the glans. Distinguished 
men may, in addition, wear a ring round the penis, 
which is cut from the scales of the pangolin, and studded 
with blunt points. It may hence be concluded that 
the perforation of the penis is not intended as an 
endurance test for the young men, but that the pin is 
introduced for the heightening of sexual excitement. 
Many natives assert that the insertion of a pin in the 
perforated penis has the purpose of preventing pede- 
rasty, which is very frequent among the Malays 
(compare Nieuwenhuis, Vol. I., p. 78 ; Kleiweg de 
Zwaan, p. 301 ; Meyer, p. 878 ; Hose and McDougall, 
Vol. II., p. 170 ; Buschan, 1912, p. 240). 

Among the Australians the slitting of the male 
urethra is frequently practised. Formerly it was 
believed that this custom was intended to prevent 
conception. But as the Australians who are not under 
European influence are ignorant of the process of 
generation, this cannot be its meaning. The operation 
is generally performed in boyhood or early youth, but 
even adult men undergo it. Where this operation on 
the urethra is customary, the hymen of the girls is cut, 
the cut often going through the perineum. Many 


tribes practise simple circumcision. Among the 
Australian tribe Worgait, for instance, certain relatives 
decide about the circumcision of the boys. After a 
previous elaborate ceremonial the boy who is to be 
circumcised is laid on the backs of three men lying on 
the ground ; another man sits on his chest, one holds 
his legs apart, and the sixth performs the operation 
by drawing the foreskin forward and cutting it off with 
a sharp splinter of stone. The group is hidden from 
the view of the women by a screen made of pieces of 
bark. Afterwards the youth is instructed by old men 
how he must behave as a man, and he is informed about 
the matters kept secret from women. He remains for 
another two months under the supervision of two sons 
of his maternal uncle, and has further to go through a 
number of ceremonies. Other tribes of the Australian 
North Territory have similar customs. 

Circumcision among the Hamites of East Africa is 
particularly elaborate. As an example we may take 
the pastoral tribe of the Nandi. These people used to 
circumcise boys every seven and a half years, and 
celebrated the occasion with great festivals. Since 
1905 circumcision takes place at shorter intervals. The 
usual age for circumcision is from the fifteenth to the 
nineteenth year. Younger boys are only circum- 
cised if they are rich orphans, or if their fathers are 
old men. The ceremony begins at the time of the first 
quarter of the moon. Three days before the operation 
the boys are given over by their fathers or guardians 


into the charge of old men, called moterenic, as many 
as ten boys going to two of these men. The moterenic 
and their boys betake themselves to a neighbouring 
wood, where they build a hut, in which they spend the 
six months after the circumcision. The boys have 
their heads shaved and are given a strong aperient of 
Arsidia sp. Warriors visit the hut, and take away all 
the boys' clothes and ornaments. Then young girls visit 
the boys and give them a part of their clothing and orna- 
ments. After the boys have put these on they inform 
their relations of the forthcoming circumcision. There 
is dancing on the next day, after which the warriors 
draw the boys aside to discover from their expressions 
whether they will behave cowardly or bravely at the 
circumcision. After this examination the boys receive 
necklaces from their girl friends, with which they deco- 
rate themselves. After sunset they must listen to the 
sharpening of the operating knife. Warriors are present, 
and tease the boys. Later on all undress, and a pro- 
cession is formed with a moterenic at the head and rear 
of it. Four times they have to crawl through a small 
cage, where warriors are stationed at the entrance and 
exit with nettles and hornets. With the former they 
beat the boys in the face and on the sex organs ; the 
hornets they set on their backs. A fire is kept burning 
in the middle of the room, around which old men are 
seated. Each boy has to step before them and beg for 
permission to be circumcised. He is questioned about 
his early life ; and if the old men think that he has told 


an untruth or is hiding something, he is put among 
nettles. If the old men are satisfied with his words, 
the price of the circumcision has to be arranged, 
whereupon the boys are led back to their huts. There 
the warriors and elders assemble the next morning, and 
at dawn the circumcision begins. The boy to be circum- 
cised is supported by the senior moterenic, the others 
sitting close by and looking on. The operator kneels 
before the boy, and with a quick cut performs the first 
part of the operation ; the foreskin is drawn forward 
and cut off at the tip of the glans penis. The sur- 
rounding men watch the boy's face in order to see 
whether he winces or shows any sign of pain. If this 
is the case, he is called a coward, and receives the dis- 
honourable nickname of kilpit ; he is not allowed to be 
present at later circumcisions nor at the children's 
dances. The brave boys receive bundles of ficus from 
the women, who welcome them with cries of joy when 
they return the necklaces which they have previously 
received from their girl friends. The foreskins are 
collected and placed in an ox horn. Friends and rela- 
tives make merry together, while the second part of 
the operation begins. At this only sterile girls may be 
present, and also women who have lost several brothers 
and sisters at short intervals. Many boys become 
unconscious during this part of the operation. The 
wounds are only washed with cold water, and the boys 
are led back to their huts, where they spend some weeks 
quietly. During the first four days they are not allowed 


to touch food with their hands ; they must eat either 
out of a half-calabash or with the help of some leaves. 
They get what they like, also milk and meat. But, 
apart from their moterenic, nobody may come near 
them for four days. Afterwards the hand- washing 
ceremony is performed ; the foreskins are taken out of 
the ox horn, sacrificed to their god, and then buried in 
cowdung at the foot of a croton tree. Now the boys 
may eat with their hands again, but still no one may 
see them except the young children who bring them 
food. Three months later, when the boys are quite 
well again, they have to go through a new ceremony, 
during which they have to dive repeatedly into the 
river. If one of them should meet with an accident, 
his father has to kill a goat. Only now may the boys 
move about freely, but they still have to wear women's 
clothes (as hitherto) and a special head-dress that hides 
their faces. They must not enter a cattle kraal nor 
come near the cattle, nor are they allowed to be out- 
doors when the hyena howls. This period of semi- 
seclusion lasts about eight weeks. Its conclusion is 
celebrated by a feast. Still more ceremonies follow, 
and again a feast, after which the boys finally enter the 
status of manhood. 

Girls are circumcised when some of them in the 
settlement have reached marriage age. They are 
shaved, given aperients, have to put on men's clothes, 
which they receive from their lovers, and take their 
clubs, loin bells, etc. After three days' ceremonial the 


circumcision is performed in the morning, at which the 
mothers and some old women are present ; men are 
only admitted when they have lost several brothers 
and sisters in succession. The mothers run about 
crying and shouting during the operation. Only the 
clitoris is cut out. If a girl behaves bravely, she may 
return the clothes and other things of her lover, other- 
wise they are thrown away. The girls, too, must not 
touch food with their hands for four days ; afterwards 
they are put into long dresses with a kind of head mask, 
and have to go through a period of seclusion. After 
the completion of various other formalities they are 
fit for marriage (Hollis, 1909, pp. 52 et seq.). 

No satisfactory explanation has so far been forth- 
coming of the purpose of these elaborate circumcision 
customs. Similar customs are observed by other 
Hamites of Eastern Africa. 

Among the Masai there exists the belief that circum- 
cision was introduced by the command of God (Merker, 
p. 60). After the circumcision boys and girls are 
considered grown up. The former have to be circum- 
cised as soon as they are strong enough to take part in 
a war expedition. The circumcision of sons whose 
parents have no property and of poor orphans takes 
place last of all. For the meat banquet which the 
newly circumcised hold every one present has to 
supply an ox. Poor boys must first acquire it by 
working for it. The circumcision is a public affair, 
and is arranged by the witch doctor in certain years. 



The old men consult in all the districts, and fix a day 
for the circumcision of the first batch of boys. All the 
boys circumcised during a certain number of years 
form an age class with a particular name (as among 
the Nandi). Several weeks before the circumcision 
the boys, adorned with many ornaments, dance and 
sing in their own and neighbouring kraals, in order to 
express their joy at their approaching admission into 
the warrior class. On the day before the circumcision 
the boys' heads are shaved. On the appointed day 
itself the boys and the warriors who are present at the 
operation assemble before dawn at the place chosen 
by the operators. The boys pour cold water over each 
other, so as to become less sensitive. After the opera- 
tion the wounded member is washed with milk ; no 
remedy for stopping the bleeding is applied. Later on 
all the men of the neighbourhood assemble in the kraal, 
where they are regaled with meat and honey beer by 
the parents of the newly circumcised boys. The girls 
are circumcised as soon as signs of puberty become 
evident, sometimes even earlier. The operation con- 
sists in a complete abscission of the clitoris. The 
wound, as with the boys, is washed in milk. The girl 
remains in her mother's hut until the wound is healed. 
As soon as the man to whom the girl is promised as 
bride hears of her recovery he pays her father the 
remaining part of the bride-price, and nothing more 
stands in the way of the marriage. 

Among the Somals in North-east Africa the boys 


are circumcised when six years old, and the girls are 
infibulated at three or four years of age. The infibula- 
tion is preceded by the shortening of the clitoris and 
the clipping of the external labia. The operation is 
performed by experienced women, who also sew up 
the inner labia (except for a small aperture) with horse- 
hair, bast, or cotton thread. The girls have to rest for 
several days with their legs tied together. Before 
marriage the above-mentioned women or the girls 
themselves undo the stitching, which, however, is in 
most cases only severed completely before the con- 
finement (Paulitschke, p. 24). 

In Western Africa most peoples practise the circum- 
cision of boys. The age at which this takes place 
varies greatly. The Duala in Cameron have the boys 
circumcised when four or five years old, the Bakwiri 
as late as the twelfth to fourteenth year, and the 
Dahomey even postpone the circumcision to the 
twentieth year. But it always takes place before 
marriage, as women would refuse to have relationship 
with uncircumcised men (Buschan, " Sitten," III., p. 40). 

A peculiar disfigurement of the sex organs is cus- 
tomary among the Hottentots, Bushmen, and many 
Bantu tribes of Middle and South Africa. This con- 
sists in the artificial elongation of the small labia. 
It was first observed among the Hottentot women, 
and therefore the elongated labia were called the 
" Hottentot apron." Among the Jao, Makonde, and 
other East African Bantu tribes, the girls at the ages 

I 2 


of seven, eight, or nine years are instructed by old 
women about sex intercourse and their behaviour 
towards grown-up people. At the same time they are 
encouraged to systematically alter the natural shape 
of the genital organs by continually pulling at the 
labia minora and thus unnaturally lengthening them. 
Karl Weule has seen such disfigured organs from 7 to 8 
centimetres long. According to the assertion of 
numerous male natives, the elongated labia assume 
such dimensions that they hang half-way down to the 
knee. The main purpose of this disfiguration seems 
to be erotic ; it is said to excite the men. The assump- 
tion that the labia minora are naturally exceptionally 
large among the Hottentots is certainly wrong. Karl 
Weule is right when he definitely maintains that his 
proof of the artificial elongation of the labia among the 
East Africans establishes it as an indubitable fact 
that the famous Hottentot apron is also an artificial 
product. Le Vaillant established this independently 
almost 100 years before Weule ; but the error dragged 
on from decade to decade, chiefly because nobody 
troubled or had the good fortune to study the puberty 
rites as Weule did. It is time at last to give up this 
erroneous idea. 

Among the Jaos the operation of the boys consists 
in a combination of incision with circumcision so that 
only a tiny piece of the under-part of the preputium 
remains. The boy must show courage at the opera- 
tion. Screams, if they occur, are drowned by the 



laughter of the bystanders. Bleeding is stilled by 
bark powder. The boys have to lie down for about 
twenty days or more, until healing has taken place. 
As usual, circumcision is combined with instruction 
about sex behaviour. 

In former times the Jaos are said to have imposed 
castration as a punishment on men for misbehaviour 
with the chief's wife (Weule, pp. 29, 35). Castration 
still takes place for this reason among other negro 
races, especially the Mohammedan Sudanese. 

In North America the few Indians still living in a 
state of nature do not practise mutilation of the sex 
organs. In South America circumcision exists among 
the linguistically isolated tribes and the neighbouring 
Aruake and Karaib tribes of the north-west, also 
among the tribes on the Ucayali and the tributaries 
of the Apure (W. Schmidt, p. 1048). The Kayapo 
Indians on the Araguay river cut the frenulum of the 
penis with a taquara splinter, and the penis cuff is 
fastened on to the rolled-up foreskin (W. Kissenberth, 

P- 55). 

The purpose of circumcision is probably to prolong 
the sex act, for the bare glans is less sensitive than the 
covered one. Friederici says (p. 89) that the black 
boys congregating on the stations and plantations 
frequently discuss these matters amongst themselves ; 
they know that the glans of the circumcised is much 
less sensitive than that of the uncircumcised. Many 
authors are of the opinion that the abscission or 


incision of the foreskin in boys has the purpose of 
making cohabitation easier in later years, as this is 
often made difficult by phimosis (tightness of the fore- 
- skin). Kiilz (p. 40) found that among the youthful 
plantation workers in New Mecklenburg nearly a 
quarter were afflicted with phimosis, and often to such 
a degree that normal sex functioning was quite im- 
possible. But such a condition does not seem to 
prevail among most of the primitive peoples practising 
circumcision. And, further, of what use would mutila- 
tions be that had nothing to do with tightness of the 
foreskin ? 

The prolonged festivals and elaborate ceremonials 
which are so often connected with the circumcision of 
boys and of girls, or with their admission to the state of 
manhood and womanhood (without accompanying cir- 
cumcision), are intended to preserve the event in the 
memory. The long ceremony is deeply impressed upon 
the mind, and forms a firm nucleus round which other 
memories cluster which otherwise would be lost in the 
humdrum of ordinary life. How could the time of entry 
into manhood remain without ceremonious festival ? 
This seems all the more necessary because the growth 
into manhood is gradual and almost unnoticeable, and if 
there were no ceremony, it would pass without making 
any impression. It is therefore the intention not only 
to give expression to the beginning virility, but above 
all to the admission into the league of youth (Schurtz, 

PP- 95, 96). 



AMONG all human races the signs of maturity appear 
later and less distinctly in the male than in the female. 
In Europeans the period of puberty coincides with the 
second period of increased bodily growth, which ceases 
in the male between the sixteenth and the eighteenth 
year, and in the female between the fourteenth and the 
sixteenth year. The end of the puberty period may, 
however, in individual cases, be postponed for some 
years. The exact time of the advent of sex maturity, 
which, on account of their menstruation, can be fixed 
much more readily in girls than in boys, varies not only 
individually, but racially. The same applies to the 
difference in time between the advent of maturity 
and the cessation of bodily growth. Sexual maturity, 
as well as the cessation of bodily growth, takes place 
much earlier in Europeans than in some of the primitive 
peoples. Among other primitive peoples, however, 
maturity occurs comparatively late, and bodily growth 
ceases shortly after. To the latter belong certainly 
some of the peoples living in the tropics. 

The opinion still prevails that climate has a consider- 
able influence on the advent of maturity. Rudolf 
Martin (1915) remarks : " Races living in the tropics 


grow more quickly and mature earlier than the races 
living in temperate zones. This is undoubtedly due 
to the earlier advent of puberty." 

As regards the Japanese, E. Baelz had already in 
1891 disputed the statement that they mature early. 
He found, however, that the growth of both sexes 
ceases in Japan earlier than in Europe; still sex 
maturity in the female does not occur earlier. Accord- 
ing to the concordant statements of female teachers of 
various girls' schools, the Japanese girls, in fact, reach 
maturity later than European girls, and half-caste 
girls take a medium position. 

Since then reliable data about the advent of maturity 
among non-European races have seldom been given, 
but those to hand show that most probably even 
among coloured primitive people puberty generally 
occurs late. 

Very important material has been collected by 
O. Reche in Matupi (New Pomerania, Melanesia), with 
the assistance of the Catholic mission of the place. He 
found that the rhythm of growth of the Melanesians 
corresponds on the whole to that of the Europeans, 
except that the growth ceases altogether a few years 
earlier. Development in height is finished on the 
whole in girls at the beginning of the seventeenth year, 
and in boys in the eighteenth year. But, as regards 
the advent of puberty, Reche 's researches led to the 
surprising result that all Matupi girls, with the excep- 
tion of those seventeen years old, had not yet men- 


struated. Reche remarks that this strikingly late appear- 
ance of menstruation is also known to the missionaries, 
because in order to prevent early marriages they only 
consent to the marriage of a girl after the first menstrua- 
tion has taken place. Reche 's experience is in strong 
contradiction to the belief formerly taken for granted, 
for puberty occurs among these inhabitants of the 
tropics not only not earlier, but, on the contrary, later 
than with the Europeans living in temperate climates. 
Of importance is the fact that in the Matupi natives 
puberty coincides with the highest point of the curve 
of growth, namely, with the end of the development 
in height. Puberty commences when growth ceases. 
It almost seems as if the advent of maturity absorbs 
all the strength and hinders further growth. It is 
quite different with Europeans in this respect : the 
beginning of puberty falls with them in the second 
period of growth (in boys the twelfth to the sixteenth, 
in girls the eleventh to the fourteenth year), and there- 
fore long before growth ceases altogether. 

It would seem that the conditions existing among 
Europeans are the primitive state, as with the majority 
of animals also puberty begins before the cessation of 

Reche reports further that, corresponding to the late 
puberty, the secondary sexual characteristics also 
appear exceptionally late in Matupi children. This 
is the chief reason why the boys and girls, especially 
as they are small, appear remarkably young even 


shortly before maturity, and why their age seems much 
less than it actually is. The first beginning of the 
change from the areola mamma to the budding breast 
shows itself among the Matupi girls not before the 
sixteenth year ; the development of the breast seems 
to coincide with the first menstruation. Axillary 
hair did not appear in sixteen-year-old Matupi girls, 
with one exception ; and it was scanty in those seven- 
teen years old, though it is generally copious in adults. 
There was also no trace of a beard in seventeen-year- 
old boys, though it is well developed in the older men. 
It must be added that the late differentiation of 
secondary sexual characteristics is also noticeable 
among other coloured races, as, e.g., among the Philip- 
pines and other Indonesian races. 

Among the Papuans of New Guinea also sex maturity 
occurs late. As Richard Neuhaus wrote, according to 
information given by missionaries who have lived for a 
long time among the natives on Tami and among the 
Jabim, the first menstruation generally appears in the 
fifteenth to sixteenth year. Young males look very 
undeveloped up to the sixteenth year. Neuhaus 
thought this late maturity was the result of bad 
feeding, though it does not appear from his other 
descriptions that the economic conditions of the Papuans 
are especially unfavourable. 

A. E. Jenks reports of the Igorots on Luzon that 
boys as well as girls attain puberty at a late age, 
generally between fourteen and sixteen years. The 


civilised Ilkano people settled among the Igorots 
definitely declare that the girls do not menstruate 
before they have reached the sixteenth or seventeenth 
year. A considerable error as regards their age seems 
to be excluded with these people, who have lived a 
long time under European influence. 

Of the Andamanese, a pigmy race, Portman and 
Molesworth write that puberty appears in boys and 
girls round about the fifteenth year. Bodily growth 
is finished at eighteen years, and is in any case after 
maturity very trivial. 

Eugen Fischer makes the following statements 
about the Bastards in German South-west Africa : 
" In one family five out of six daughters menstruated 
for the first time at the age of fifteen, one at the age of 
sixteen. One Bastard woman had first menstruated 
at the age of seventeen, three of her daughters at 
thirteen, the fourth, who was anaemic, at seventeen. 
Another Bastard woman, who herself had her first 
menstruation at fifteen, had two daughters from a 
white man who had reached puberty at sixteen and 
seventeen years of age. A girl with distinct anaemia 
stated that she had had her first period at sixteen 
years, her sister even as late as eighteen." Fischer 
knows of three girls that became mature at sixteen, 
fourteen, and thirteen years. L. Schultze reports 
that with the Hottentots the first menstruation appears, 
as a rule, between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. 

There is, unfortunately, no information to be had 


about the negroes with regard to this subject. The 
puberty rites practised by them give no clue to the 
real age at the advent of puberty. 

Ales Hrdlicka (pp. 125 129) tried to determine the 
age of puberty among Indian girls of the south-west 
of the United States by their height, as definite state- 
ments of age are not to be had. This method is not 
without objection, for it is certain that individuals 
who have attained puberty are decidedly taller than 
persons of the same age who have not reached maturity. 
Hrdlicka found that of those examined in the twelfth 
or thirteenth year one-third of the Apache girls and 
as many as three-quarters of the Pima girls had already 
menstruated. In the age class of thirteen to fourteen 
years four-fifths of the Apache and nine-tenths of the 
Pima girls had already menstruated, while of forty-six 
older girls only one had not yet attained puberty. 
The first signs of breast development were noticed by 
Hrdlicka in clothed Indian maidens whose ages he 
estimated to be from eleven to twelve years. But 
it was only between fifteen and seventeen that the girls 
acquired the typical womanly form ; until then they 
have, as Hrdlicka says, " a somewhat male appearance." 
In youths the beard begins to grow at the fifteenth 
or sixteenth year. The climate is moderate in the 
country of the Apache and Pima Indians ; the days are 
decidedly hot in the low-lying regions, but the nights 
are generally cold in these regions, even in summer. 

In comparison it may be noted that, according to 


H. P. Bowditch's investigations in Boston, nearly 
four-fifths of the white girls born in America mature 
between the thirteenth and seventeenth year. Puberty 
is reached relatively most often between the ages of 
fourteen and fifteen, though over 40 per cent, of 575 
girls examined had not yet menstruated at the com- 
pleted fifteenth year. 

Within one and the same race the conditions of life 
seem to have a great influence on the age of puberty and 
bodily development. Unfavourable conditions produce a 
retardation of puberty ; favourable conditions accelerate 
it. This may be the chief cause why the beginning of 
puberty varies individually by several years. 

There exists so far no definite explanation of the 
racial differences in the age of puberty. Reche says, 
"It is conceivable that the characteristically late 
maturity of a tropical race (like that of the Melanesians) 
may gradually have been acquired by the unfavourable 
influence of too hot a climate or of continual under- 
feeding acting on many generations." 

It is remarkable that, in contradistinction to the 
Melanesians, the Indians become mature very early, 
and the same applies most likely to the Australians. 
In India, as in Australia, sexual intercourse is begun 
at a very youthful age, among the girls often long 
before the first menstruation. It is possible that on 
account of this the age of puberty is lowered, so that 
girls who mature late are more easily injured and 
perish in greater number than the girls maturing 


earlier, who are less injured by the premature sexual 
intercourse. The male sex may have been influenced 
in the same direction through heredity. 

Just as physical maturity, so is the cessation of 
generative power and bodily decline more marked in 
women than in men. In Middle and Northern Europe, 
procreation generally ceases with women of an age 
between forty-five and fifty years. Numerous birth 
statistics from all countries of this continent show that 
birth in women over fifty years old is very rare. It 
is not quite clear how the case stands in this respect 
among the coloured races. Hrdlicka reports of the 
North American Indian women that with them the 
climacterium occurs apparently at about the same age 
as with European women. It must be taken into 
consideration that accurate statements of age are 
wanting, and that the age of Indian women can easily 
be greatly overrated. Otherwise it has generally 
been reported of coloured women that they age rapidly, 
and that their reproductive period is comparatively 
short. In North-west Brazil the Indian girls marry 
as soon as in their tenth to twelfth year, on account of 
their rapid development. Early maturity and marriage 
may be one of the chief causes of their rapid decline. 
The Indian women are generally beyond their prime 
at the age of twenty. Their straight figure is frequently 
covered with a disgusting accumulation of fat, and the 
elasticity of movement gives way to indolence. Other 
women become very thin after several confinements, 


their features become sharp and bony, and among old 
women one often comes across real hag-like creatures 
with half-blind, running eyes (Koch-Griinberg, II., 

P- 149). 

In India the women of the Dravidian as well as of 

the Mongolian races age rapidly. Their generative 
power rarely lasts longer than the beginning of the 
forties. Among the pigmies the time of procreation 
is said to be equally short (Portman and Molesworth). 
Spencer and Gillen say that with the Australian women 
a rapid bodily decline takes place as early as the 
twenty-fifth and at the latest in the thirtieth year, which 
cannot be attributed to exceptional privations or harsh 
treatment. The Australian women apparently reach 
the age of fifty years or more only exceptionally. 

Jochelson (pp. 413 et seq.) writes that the Koryak 
women age very rapidly. They cease to bear children 
at about the age of forty. Other travellers have made 
statements about the great age that the Koryaks are 
said to attain. Jochelson 's thorough-going investiga- 
tions showed that of 284 persons only thirteen could 
possibly have been over sixty-five years old, and among 
them there was only one really old man. 

Schultze (p. 297) mentions two Hottentot women 
who had given birth at the age of forty-seven, and 
another who still had her period at fifty-five. Among 
the negresses late births also occur. Unfortunately, 
ethnographical literature only rarely gives facts with 
regard to this subject. 



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